Magnolia Electric Co. – Josephine

magnoliaIt’s a shame that an album this strong is already destined to get overlooked, but in a time of flippant hype and internet buzz, a band like Magnolia Electric Co., the current vehicle for Jason Molina, is bound to get lost in the mix. Following the death of their bassist, Evan Farrell, Magnolia Electric Co. started piecing Josephine together. It’s concept album about loss and loneliness, two themes that are no doubt common to Molina’s work. But on Josephine, Molina really seems to have his act together. Things here are more subdued than 2006’s What Comes After the Blues, which found Molina and company following after Crazy Horse, and more consistent than the unfocused Fading Trails. The opening track, “O’ Grace” is one of the best displays of Molina’s trademark vocals and his skilled songwriting. “Map of the Falling Sky” is a dark and brooding testament to the power of loneliness, while the brief album closer, “An Arrow in the Gale,” asks who is freer, the narrator or the ghost that haunts him. Recorded by the legendary Steve Albini, Josephine is fitting tribute to a fallen friend and a strong effort from great band. (Secretly Canadian, Jonathan Dyck