Review: John K. Samson – Provincial Route 222 EP

John K. Samson is the Ang Lee of the Winnipeg music scene, and yes, I mean that as a compliment. Just as Lee can make movies that don’t seem plausible on paper but actually end up amazing, when Samson gets an idea, or if you can describe your idea to him, he can write a song about seemingly anything and make it work. A straight-up rock song about a curling bonspiel. A semi-ironic tune about hatred for one’s city. A song from the perspective of his cat. All sound ridiculous, but they have worked, and are amazing. You can’t bet against him. It’s like trying to fight gravity. This album is his second in a series of 7” releases about Manitoba roads, with this one focusing in particular on stories located on the route between Gimli and Riverton. “The Last And” is a touching folk song about the end of an affair between a school principal and a teacher, that Samson himself has said could very easily be about Principal Skinner and Edna Krabappel’s relationship on The Simpsons, which will make me think differently about their characters now when I watch the show. “Petition” is, well, an online petition set to his guitar to induct Reggie Leach, a former NHL player from Riverton, into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Finally, “Stop Error” is about a young man who spends all of his time on the computer, trying to find the meaning of life after it crashes, and is set to a chorale by Bach. Three songs that feel different and distinct when listening to them, but containing the Canadian small town theme that unites them, Provincial Road 222 is another successful release from one of Canada’s most consistently talented songwriters. (Anti-, Charles Lefebvre