Saturday, December 6, 2008

Songs: Ohia - Magnolia Electric Co. (2003)

It's the honesty that gets me. It's why Bob Dylan and Neil Young were such phenoms. Like Dylan and Young, Songs: Ohia's Jason Molina doesn't possess a virtuoso's singing abilities or guitar chops; rather, it's the sincerity in his songwriting that transcends his music.

I find a lot of commonalities between myself and Molina (apart from both being raised in Ohio and spending time in Bloomington, IN [Songs: Ohia is signed to Bloomington-based label Secretly Canadian]). He sings often of the difficulty in moving forward in life, a challenge I'm facing as I finish school in a few short months. In "Riding With The Ghost", Molina ails over the fears and risks we face during change and maturation, "See I ain't getting better, I am only getting behind / I am standing on a crossroad trying to make up my mind".

These are tough times, and we all experience them at some point in our lives. The fear of making the wrong move, the fear of failure, and ultimately the fear of regret. Molina took the risk by committing to something he was passionate about and he tracks this personal journey throughout the album. In the powerful album-opener "Farewell Transmission", he speaks of the doubt inherent when taking on something new, "The real truth about it is my kind of life's no better off / If I've got the maps or if I'm lost". However, Molina consistently reminds us the importance of, at the very least, trying. In the end, by accepting change and moving forward, he takes his own advice and succeeds: "But if no one makes it out / How come you're talking to one right now?"

If you can get past the melancholy strain of Molina's voice and the minor key of most of the tracks, I think this album alludes to some positive life lessons. Never stop trying, don't fear change and things will work out like they should.

Anyway, I hope I'm not being too preachy. Give this album a few times through, it took me a little while to get hooked. But the candor of the lyrics, the crude and simple acoustic rhythms, and the allure of an artist truly exposing his heart to an audience will get me every time.

Keep on keepin' on,

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