Release Date: Jul 21, 2009
Record label: Secretly Canadian
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Alt-Country
What Jason Molina and his fellow electric suppliers have given us on Josephine is timeless. It's at times fragile, at times bolstering, at times bittersweet, at times even triumphant, but it's timeless all the same. The record aches with the loss of bass player Evan Farrell, but it also finds strength to move on. Whether we want to understand Josephine as a tribute is not necessarily what's most important.
Josephine is the first proper Magnolia Electric Co. album since 2006's Fading Trails. In 2007, the limited-edition, four-disc Sojourner box set was issued, but it contained mostly released material, demos, and alternate versions of material recorded elsewhere with numerous lineups. Frontman and songwriter Jason Molina is accompanied by a fairly large ensemble, though the palette of instruments still centers around piano, guitars, drums, and a dobro and lapsteel.
“No-body tries… that ha-a-ard anymore…” Jason Molina has put out an album and/or EP every year since 1996, collaborating with some of the finest musicians in indiedom, under the Songs:Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. imprimaturs. Two of his solo records are destined to be regarded as dark masterpieces of lo-fi confessionalism, in spite of the handicap that Let Me Go, Let Me Go, Let Me Go was written and recorded in a single day.
The humble beginnings of Josephine came about when Jason Molina and bassist Evan Farrell got together to work on some new song ideas. What began to emerge was something a little more cyclical and thematically linked than anything the band had ever done. And when tragedy struck in December 2007, and Evan Farrell passed away, Jason Molina and the rest of the band wanted to create Josephine as a tribute to their fallen friend.
Jason Molina used to wail. In a review of the Songs: Ohia album that gave Molina's Magnolia Electric Co. it's name, Eric Carr chastised a guest singer with, "[H]e's not Molina, whose voice you paid to hear." Another Forker, William Bowers, once referred to Molina's voice as an "occasionally erect vibrato." Like chalking a pool cue, Molina's distinctive bleat was a hedge against flaws, and even his best, most interesting albums feature many.