- Will Claytor
- Plugged in: Magnolia Electric Co.
Throughout the musical endeavors of ever-industrious songwriter Jason Molina run reccurring themes -- strong imagery of nighttime and its full embodiment of tranquility, desolation, eeriness and beauty. He's known to tell tales of ghosts and darkness articulated against a backdrop of country rock, rendered tangible to the listener through his unmistakable, expressive vocal delivery.
Such is certainly the case with the brand-new Josephine (Secretly Canadian), Molina's fourth album with his full-band project Magnolia Electric Co. The album serves as a memorial to the band's bassist Evan Farrell, who passed away in 2007. Farrell contributed significantly to the songwriting, and his influence lingers throughout the album much like the spirit of "Josephine," who materializes first in the title track and repeatedly in unexpected later moments.
The more bombastic roots and folk on prior releases drew many a comparison to Neil Young and Crazy Horse, a similarity Molina asserts was truly unintentional. With Josephine, the focus has shifted to quieter country, with a few new embellishments like a horn section and organ and saxophone solos taking the place of the usual distorted guitars. It also reflects in some ways Molina's own withdrawal from his home in the Midwest, which was always another major source of inspiration in his songs: While the rest of the band remains in Indiana, he recently moved to London.
Altogether, Josephine's narrative leads you through feelings of loss and regret, and you'll follow it only to find yourself somewhere left alone in the still of the night, exquisitely sad and wistful.
Magnolia Electric Co. with The Donkeys. 8 p.m. Wed., July 15. Andy Warhol Museum outdoor stage, 117 Sandusky St., North Side. $12. 412-237-8300 or www.warhol.org