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Craig Finn & The Uptown Controllers plus John K. Samson 10/14
at City Winery Atlanta
We All Want The Same Things, Craig Finn’s new solo record out March 24th on Partisan Records, explores themes of love and partnership in the modern world. Expressed via Finn’s signature character studies, black humor, and smartly arranged rock ‘n’ roll, the album is arguably his most musical to date. Largely recorded in Rhinebeck, NY with frequent collaborator Josh Kaufman producing and Dan Goodwin engineering and mixing, the record also features contributions from drummer Joe Russo, keyboardist Sam Kassirer, Rainer Maria vocalist Caithlin De Marrais, singer/songwriter Annie Nero, horn master Stuart Bogie, Jon Shaw, Jordan McLean, Matt Barrick and Finn’s longtime partner in The Hold Steady, guitarist Tad Kubler.
“Love seems like the biggest mystery in our modern days- no amount of science or advances in technology can help us fully understand the notion of love and the role it plays in our lives” Finn says, “But I also thought about the search for love as an antidote for loneliness, and how so often modern partnership can be an alignment of self-interests. We make teams with each other to combat the world around us. There is a beauty in that for sure, but it also can fray around the edges. We lean against each other to keep ourselves upright, make uneasy truces, and push forward into uneasy times. The songs I had dwelled on this.”
The name of the album comes from a line in the song “God in Chicago,” which Finn explains “although it seems like a bit of dark humor in these turbulent political times, it also rings true: no matter our differences we all have some very basic wants and needs that line up with each other.”
Finn is best known as the frontman of acclaimed rock outfit The Hold Steady, with whom he has released six studio albums. Prior to The Hold Steady, Finn was the also the frontman of beloved Minneapolis post-punk band Lifter Puller. We All Want The Same Things is Finn’s third solo album, following Clear Heart Full Eyes (2012) and Faith In the Future (2015). WAWTST takes the listener even deeper into Finn’s complex, nuanced world of characters, explaining “these songs are about normal people trying to help themselves, trying to move forward, and in some cases trying just to survive. All the while they are negotiating what space the others in their lives can occupy.”
John K Samson
Inspired by the search for connection and community, his hometown of Winnipeg, and our individual and collective struggles with addictions to drugs, screens, and fossil fuels, John K. Samson’s new full-length album, Winter Wheat, available now, is a sprawling, masterful and timely work by a writer at the peak of his powers. Winter Wheat was produced in garages and homes through a Winnipeg winter by Samson’s partner and collaborator, Christine Fellows, and his Weakerthans co-founder and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Jason Tait, and mixed in the spring in Toronto by Robbie Lackritz (Bahamas, Feist). The spare and thoughtful arrangements also feature Greg Smith of The Weakerthans on electric bass, Ashley Au on double and electric bass, Leanne Zacharias on cello, and Shotgun Jimmie on electric guitar.
Several of the 15 songs, most directly Select All Delete, Vampire Alberta Blues, and VPW 13 Blues, are inspired by Neil Young’s enduring 1974 album On the Beach, and that record’s honest and unvarnished spirit is evident throughout Winter Wheat. Postdoc Blues follows an aging student struggling to maintain faith in the possibility of a better world, while Fellow Traveller is loosely based on the life of the British art critic and Soviet spy Anthony Blunt. 150 years of Winnipeg’s history is revealed in the two and a half minutes of Oldest Oak at Brookside, and Samson’s recurring characters Virtute the cat and her troubled human companion (from The Weakerthans songs Plea from a Cat Named Virtute and Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure) make their final appearances in 17th Street Treatment Centre and Virtute at Rest.
Like the crop itself, which is planted in the fall, sprouts, goes dormant through months of snow and rises in the spring, Winter Wheat is a determined, beautiful, resilient response to difficult and extraordinary times.
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