Winter Wheatsits in an interesting crossroads for the Winnipeg-born singer-songwriter John K. Samson.

His first solo record in four years comes after the announcement that The Weakerthans are officially no more, yet the album still features the very same rhythm section.

Samson’s songwriting has lost none of its charm. His skill as a songwriter remains world-class, thanks to his ability to weave intimate stories through universal themes without ever feeling overbearing or exclusionary. Samson’s characters feel human in the most beautiful way.

Technology serves as a major theme throughout this record, from the disarming opening line, “That hashtag wants me dead,” (‘Select All Delete’) to an illustration of the vapid intimacy computers can provide on ‘Carrie Ends The Call’. Neil Young’s 1974 album On The Beach serves as an overarching inspiration and companion piece, most notably on the environmentalist-leaning ‘Vampire Alberta Blues’.

Long-time fans of The Weakerthans will feel their heart tense upon learning that Winter Wheat contains two songs about Virtute the cat.

The closing track ‘Virtute At Rest’ is one of the greatest pieces of songwriting ever to fall under 100 seconds.

John K. Samson’sWinter Wheatis out now through Epitaph/Anti-.

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