Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Fading Trails- Magnolia Electric Company

I found out today that musician Jason Molina had passed away on March 16th, so I thought it apt to revisit an album that when I first heard it really captured me. Molina grew up in Lorain Ohio and had played in a number of Cleveland based bands. He recorded under a number of different moniker's but the one that carried through for me was his work with the Magnolia Electric Company.

Fading Trails sounds like a long highway, it's sparse and open with the backdrop of a red sunset merging into the distance. It's an album drenched in the southern tradition which as anyone who reads this blog will know is a fascination of mine. Jason Molina had a melancholy voice to match the harsh musical soundscape he created, it seemed to be one of loss and a certain feeling of hopelessness. On the opening track Don't Fade On Me you get a sense of the finality of life,

Don't Fade On Me
You come out of the blues
All them times by yourself
Nothing lives for nothing
And that goes for pain
And goes for everything else
But you faded on me.

Lonesome Valley is another display of that ache that existed in Molina's work, but the beauty of that song is the rich depiction of the lonesome valley and the stoicism that Molina shows, he knows that he has done his best but it may not be enough. Memphis Moon re-establishes the southern connection and adds another element to that sense of despair, like the south is the right setting.

Tea for two stars falling from the Memphis sky
I know the night bird called you now
Everything is fine
I know it's soon to be fading out
But oh didn't we shine.

Spanish Moon is the standout track off the album, acoustic with a certain fragility in Molina's voice present. It's like an enveloping darkness, the richness of the moon providing the only light in the dark.

Even like your loss
Sadder than every sorrow
Even like the night
At the edge of the world
There's still farther to fall

Vale Jason Molina.

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