The Weakerthans – Reunion Tour
Acquired: Love Garden, New, 2012
I bought this with a giftcard from Jonny D. A wedding present. This and GBV’s Alien Lanes. Two records I couldn’t live without. The Weakerthans especially, though. With the impending move, I’d been playing “Sun in an Empty Room” a lot, hell, this album a lot because the Weakerthans are one of my favorite self-medications. One of those power of music things where I can be calmed, centered by just hearing a perfectly written song sung with such genuine feeling. Reunion Tour took a long time to win me over, though. I’d patiently waited the requisite three-year wait between Weakerthans albums, and this one just didn’t click. Maybe because the retooled version of the album’s closing track, “Utilities” had won me over so hard with its spare solo-electric radio session version that’d been floating around the net for a year and a half. And then one day I had some emotional crisis, something about wanting to desperately do something useful and here I was in the running for a job as a music blogger and how useless was that? Anyway, I got over that one fast when, even though I didn’t get the job, I still freelanced and had steady work and yeah, take what you can get especially if you know, writing about music is something you do on your own for hours a week. Anyway, there was a crisis and this album was playing and I deciphered it. I realized that I not only loved it, but it might have been John K Samson & Co’s strongest album yet. Each song is a character study of some Winnipeger. Fictional and non-fictional. And they’re all lonely. The bus driver who’s route takes him past an ex-lover’s house forcing him to breakdown and deal with the regret every single day the women’s curling champion out getting drunk with the team and trying to reconcile constantly being away from her partner, an elegy for a goalie, the tragic David Reimer, and though not a Winnipegger, Edward Hopper haunts “Sun in an Empty Room” and “Night Windows” which are painted in the same colors as Hopper’s paintings of the same names. “Utilities,” however, is front-and-center about Samson.
Someone who’s songwriting has involved some of my absolute favorite storytelling delivers a first person narrative of hope and a yearning to be useful. The album version grew on me too. It has been five years since Reunion Tour and though Samson’s solo album Provincial (which came out earlier this year) is tiding me over, man oh man I want a new Weakerthans record bad.