Continuing with an old sound

“Winter Wheat” is the second solo album for Canadian singer John K. Samson.

Samson is the former lead singer of the indie rock band The Weakerthans, which is  currently on hiatus. With The Weakerthans on hiatus, Samson is able to use his experience from fronting the band for 17 years to help further that same indie rock sound.

Much of the music on “Winter Wheat” is misleading in its true meaning. The deeper meaning of the borderline melancholy lyrics is hidden beneath the surface on many of the songs by the uplifting music that accompanies them.

At first listen, songs like “17th Street Treatment Centre” (which is about receiving treatment for drug addiction in a rehab facility) and “Select All Delete” (which is about relying on social interactions through social media and how it’s easier to avoid negativity online, if you “select all and delete”) come off with a tone of happiness that is only later disregarded after a closer examination of the lyrics.

Of course, there are a few exceptions. There are songs on the album that avoid using happy sounding music to mask the depressing lyrics and instead just focus on happier topics.

For example, “Postdoc Blues” feels less alternative, more poppy, and has a simple message to the listener of not giving up even after they have experienced failure in the workplace.

As well as “Fellow Travelers,” which is a song about personal growth and the change that occurs after that happens. The song focuses on specifically what happens once a person has finally grown and they find their “fellow travelers” or people similar to them that they can relate to.

What “Winter Wheat” does well is cover an assortment of topics from workplace struggles, social media, growing up and even drug addiction. This is accomplished by songs that succeed in telling the listener a story.

However, when the album slows down on “Quiz Night at Looky Lou’s” in particular, it feels like a chore to get through and it takes away from an otherwise enjoyable experience.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)