Friday, April 24, 2020

Electricity: Magnolia Electric Co.

Magnolia Electric Co.: The Dark Don’t Hide It

Back in 2013, a few months after Jason Molina died at the age of 39, of “alcohol abuse-related organ failure,” I wrote about one of his songs for the “Punctuation” theme. The song, “John Henry Split My Heart,” was credited to Songs:Ohia, from an album called Magnolia Electric Co., and I noted that there’s some dispute over whether or not this album was the last Songs:Ohia album or the first Magnolia Electric Co. album.

Today’s song, though, is from What Comes After The Blues, which is definitely a Magnolia Electric Co. album, and it’s a good one. It’s kind of obligatory to refer to Neil Young when discussing Molina’s music, and it’s definitely there in this one—feedback laden guitars, heartfelt, quavery singing, and dark songwriting demonstrate Molina’s debt to Young. But it’s far from a ripoff, and probably more than an homage, because Molina’s music sounds like Molina.

As I noted in my prior piece, I’m not incredibly familiar with all of his work, but most of the songs that I have heard have grabbed me, and none moreso than “The Dark Don’t Hide It,” which might have been the first Molina song that I ever heard. Although I’m not sure where (but WFUV would be a good guess). There’s definitely some Neil in the intro, but it also reminds me a bit of the Jayhawks’ “Waiting For The Sun,” and the song is elevated by female harmony vocals from Jennie Benford.  The lyrics are clever, but dark, for example:

Now the world was empty on the day they made it 
But heaven needed a place to throw all the shit 
Human hearts and pain should never be separate 
They’d tear themselves apart just trying to fit 

Magnolia Electric Co. released only three more albums after What Comes After The Blues, including Sojourner, a box set, which in its full incarnation included three full-length albums, one four-song EP, one documentary movie on DVD, a celestial map and a medallion, enclosed in a wooden box. All of the releases are worth checking out.

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