February 1, 2013 by zdueck
So this record may not have been released as recently as the last album I reviewed, but I only recently fell in love with it. When I was in the Netherlands a few years ago I heard Stuart McLean pimping out this record on my Vinyl Cafe podcast, but without any avenue to attain music by some of my favourite Canadian artists, and being on a train heading far away from the conference center where I had internet access, it was soon forgotten about as I moved on to other podcasts. It was only as I was doing some Christmas shopping for my sister, deciding that I needed to open her eyes to the brilliance that is John k. Samson, that I recalled the album The Weakerthans did with Jim Bryson and decided to give it a listen to.
I could not turn this record off for the next week. I just listened to it on repeat every chance I could get like on bike rides to and from work. I even found myself making excuses to do chores away from the children and program planning at work just so I could listen to the album more.
Growing up my family spent a lot of time camping and heading off to the cabin during the summer months. And if you have ever spent any sort of time chilling on the lakeside, partying on the dock and enjoying summer away from civilization… This album is nothing but warm vinyl memories wrapped up in cardboard (or plastic and more plastic or non-tangible code depending on how you consume your music).
Though the best part about this album may just be the collaboration between Jim Bryson and John K. Samson. Given that The Weakerthans have the job of backing Jim Bryson on this album, musically it plays more like a Weakerthans album than one of Jim Bryson’s previous works. The only difference being that instead of John K. Samson’s punk poet talk/sing style or paragraph heavy lyricism and delivery, you have Jim Bryson adding a much more folksy pop style of lyricism and delivery to the album. So if you love The Weakerthans but hate how esoteric Jonh K. Samson’s lyrics can sometimes be (occasionally even bordering on esoteric for the sake of being esoteric) then you might want to give this album a shot.
Now I’m not saying that Samson’s lyrics are bad, he is actually one of my favourite lyricists (like top 5 easily). But ranking right next to him in that same top 5 list… Jim Bryson is making his presence known, and while John K. Samson is a poet of what should be laureate status if he is not already there… Sometimes you just get bored or esoteric, and that’s where Jim Bryson makes his presence known on my top 5 list. Writing lyrics that are much easier to grasp and comprehend. I mean sometimes the layers can add up, but for the most part they are thoroughly enjoyable folk pop that I can listen to and instantly identify with without the need to break apart each song brick by brick to uncover what is all being said. So with that said, I encourage you to enjoy this album (it really is a good one).