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SONGS: OHIA, "MAGNOLIA ELECTRIC CO."

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Secretly Canadian
Some albums are growers, taking time to work their magic on your mind, however every so often something hits you immediately, hitting all the right switches in you and demanding your rapt attention. With Magnolia Electric Co, Jason Molina's Songs: Ohia had me instantly spellbound. The album opens with "Farewell Transmission," a jaw dropping, eye widening, seven-minute song that is completely epic. The haunting, choral chant of "long dark blues" hints at what we should expect to come. It's the kind of song that's meant to close an album, not begin one, and sets a remarkably high bar for the following tracks. Thankfully, the material that follows is every bit as impressive, delving into those dark blues but also achieving moments of euphoric bliss. Recorded live to tape with a ten piece band, the songs on Magnolia Electric Co. echo the folk rock of Neil Young's 'Harvest,' with Molina emerging as a gifted, versatile songwriter. His lyrics express desire, longing, and hope with fantastic imagery made even more potent by the warm,soulful arrangements. Molina's vocals are bolstered by the sonorous backup vocals of Jennie Benford, which raise the chorus of "Just Be Simple" to an amazing high. Molina steps back from vocals a few times on the album, allowing Lawrence Peters to lend his deep, rugged voice to "The Old Black Hen," making it sound straight out of Nashville's golden age. Magnolia Electric Co. reaches its emotional peak on 'John Henry Split My Heart' which completely cuts loose, the band rocking at its hardest and tearing through as Molina reprises his chant of "long dark blues" tying the theme together at the highest moment of intensity. The closing coda of "Hold On, Magnolia" takes the album to a gentle and satisfying conclusion that still makes you want to listen all the way through again immediately. A limited run of the album includes nine demo tracks of the songs that went on to become Magnolia Electric Co. giving a fascinating look into Molina's process, as well as the added bonus of tracks and verses that were left behind. Songs: Ohia have crafted a masterpiece that is guaranteed to dazzle, its melodies inscribing themselves in your mind and urging you to sing along. Don't resist.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 August 2005 10:16  


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