John K. Samson – Select All Delete (Stream)

by Steven Spoerl

john-k-samson

EDITOR’S NOTE: This series of posts reflects back on some of the best material to be released over the past few weeks. Each post with this heading is a part of this series. After this series has concluded regular coverage will resume. 

Winter Wheat‘s an extraordinary album that arrived just in time for the weather’s calm descent into desolation. Anyone that’s paid attention to this site’s most recent string of posts will have seen two of the record’s songs — “Virtute at Rest”, the culmination of the shattering Virtute trilogy, and “Postdoc Blues” — covered to great extent. The album’s quietly devastating opener, “Select All Delete”, now joins their ranks.

For more than a decade, Samson has excelled at subverting ballads but “Select All Delete” finds the songwriter operating on a different level. The amount of sheer despair that informs “Select All Delete” feels bold even for someone who has a noted reputation for reducing listeners to tears. From the shuffling brushes on the snare to the defeated vocal delivery, there’s an odd absence of hope in “Select All Delete”, which sets the tone for the rest of Winter Wheat.

In one of the most gorgeous moments of any song all year, a wordless backing vocal swoops in to accentuate the chorus before the whole thing gives way to a spare, somber piano figure. There’s an undeniable elegance that runs through “Select All Delete” that winds up enhancing the sorrow at the song’s center. Over a handful of records, Samson’s never presented a narrator as hopeless and lost as the one that serves as the engine for “Select All Delete”, which makes it all the more effective. It’s a startling development, a breathtaking song, and another moment of delicate perfection from one of this generation’s most gifted songwriters. Hit play and give in to its weight.

Listen to “Select All Delete” below and pick up a copy of Winter Wheat here.