Adversity often breeds inspiration, and Jason Molina’s challenges over the last three years have opened a vein of creativity that is spilling freely. Two solo albums, a full-length collaboration with Centro-matic’s Will Johnson, and an eight-song 10-inch to accompany a coffee table book by artist Will Schaff are in the can yet unreleased, but more importantly, his band Magnolia Electric Co. has delivered Josephine, its fifth album and first proper full-length since 2006’s Fading Trails.
The three years have been pivotal for Molina; he moved from the band’s home in Indiana to London, and touring bassist Evan Farrell died in a tragic apartment fire. Despite these trials, the music on Josephine seems composed, patient and easy. Bearing country tones and understated beauty; the apparition of Josephine emerges throughout the album, from the brittle namesake track to the album closing “Arrow in the Gale,” she appears. And like Molina’s fallen friend and bandmate, her appearances are accompanied by a sense of impenetrable longing. As the story goes, this touted concept album is about a man who leaves his love but finds that his heart has stayed. In reality, a member of Magnolia Electric Co. was taken, and with him, so were the hearts of the band. Ornate and stately, the delivery is often winsome and spectral.
Jason Molina is one of the most prolific songwriters on the scene, his growing repertoire nourished by the emotions of life. His personal turmoil over the last three years is far from desirable, yet Josephine stands as a reflective masterpiece born of time and tide.
Josephine is out now on Secretly Canadian.