Friday, July 17, 2009

Magnolia Electric Co. - Josephine

You know the phenomenon when a newer band reminds you of an older band and then at some point it shifts from “they remind me of X” to “they are in the same category as X.” This has happened to me with countless bands, starting with Them reminding me of The Rolling Stones and going on through the years. It’s often how you get hooked in the first place. When I first heard Magnolia Electric Co. I thought, hey these guys sound kinda like Neil Young-y, Buffalo Springfieldish type stuff. Strong lead vocalist, writing heady, poetic songs of loss and yearning. Their music has no pretension to being faddish or cutting edge-it is simply well-performed country-folk-rock with no trickery or frills.

With Josephine Magnolia Electric Co. have made the jump. I listened to the new album breathlessly as lead singer Jason Molina stretches his pipes in a more confident way than ever before, proving he is a singer of rare talent and emotional resonance. The songs are beautiful, jewel-like compositions that serve the subject of the lyrics without getting in the way. The subject seems to be the love and loss of a woman named Josephine. The emotional detail of the lyrics is always impressive. There was line after line that I wanted to write down and revisit. There are few albums that inspire this level of scrutiny anymore. I actually was thinking, “I can’t wait to be alone with this record again.” I miss that level of emotional attachment to a new record.

--Paul Epstein

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