Jason Molina’s Songs:Ohia project remains one of my favourite slices of skewed Americana in recent years. Magnolia Electric Company, another of his musical endeavours, has previously been a heavier affair, but as Matt pointed out in his post on the album, their latest record, Josephine, is a softer effort.
It’s a record with a unified character, which is another way of saying it is, from time to time, a little samey. The songs are largely piano-led ballads, countrified and Gram Parsonsish and speaking of loss, places of American myth, and reflection. The repetition of lines and structures is part of the project, though – this is less a repetitive album as one with a strong centre of gravity.
Josephine is recursive throughout, and moods and refrains bob up to the album’s surface repeatedly . Like Richmond Fontaine, then, MEC have wrought a record which rewards relistens. At first, the repetition seems bloodless; over time, it proves more evocative. Stand-out tracks exist – ‘O Grace’, ‘Josephine’, ‘Little Sad Eyes’ – but they are sunk deep within their context. Gorgeous sounding and tenderly performed, Josephine is no singles album, but it’s a beautifully constructed work.