John K. Samson - "Prayer For Ruby Elm" (May We Grow Film Version) (Anti-): His seminal earlier band The Weakerthans is still missed by many, but John K. Samson has sustained a high quality in his work as a solo artist.
"Prayer For Ruby Elm" was included on his well-received 2016 album Winter Wheat, but was written for the soundtrack of Erika MacPherson's independent film May We Grow, and it is this version that is now released.
The Ruby Elm of the title is not a person but a tree. According to a label press release, Samson's hometown of Winnipeg has the largest population of elm trees in North America and yearly the city battles the dreaded Dutch elm disease by locating trees that are infected, spray-painting them with an orange dot and sending crews out to cut them down in the hope that the disease won't spread to other trees.
That image fuelled Samson's muse, and he came up with a typically poetic composition. After a tinkling intro, his instantly identifiable plaintive voice takes over, accompanied by sweet female harmonies. Samson references the elm's enemies, "cankerworms and climate change," and addresses the airborne seeds - "wherever we land, may we grow." The song then gradually and gently fades away, like a leaf in the fall.
Next week, on Oct. 13, a remix of the song by renowned Winnipeg DJ, DJ Co-op will also be released.
Samson starts a 16 date solo tour, opening for Craig Finn, in Gainesville, Florida, on Oct. 13. Dates here