John K. Samson goes solo in Provincial

For his solo album debut, the Weakerthans singer took inspiration from Manitoba roads and created a record filled with guitar-fuelled songs. Samson talks to CBC's Q about his dual release of Provincial and his new book, Lyrics and Poems.
Winnipeg's John K. Samson breaks out from The Weakerthans with his solo album debut, Provincial. (Jon Schledewitz/Canadian Press)

Though perhaps best known as the lead vocalist for indie rock band The Weakerthans, Winnipeg singer-songwriter John K. Samson is now branching out as a solo artist with his new album Provincial.

It originated as "a fun thing to do while The Weakerthans was having some downtime," he told Jian Ghomeshi of CBC Radio's Q.

The geographically inspired project — based on the idea of exploring different Manitoba roads and expressed through guitar-fuelled folk-rock songs — soon grew beyond its modest beginnings.

Still, after four studio albums as part of the Juno-nominated The Weakerthans (and two albums with his former band Propagandhi), it was a challenge putting out a solo release, Samson admitted.

"It was like recording for the first time," he noted. "It made me feel a bit naked."

Provincial's release on Tuesday arrives alongside the debut of Samson’s new book Lyrics and Poems, 1997-2012, a collection of his lyrics and poetry from the past 15 years.