Magnolia Electric Co. – Josephine [Album Review]

by oz on August 12, 2009

magnolia electric co - josephine

Magnolia Electric Co. put out Josephine in July and if there’s a better album released this year, I haven’t found it. I’m drawn to musicians that are expert songwriters and Jason Molina falls squarely into the lyrical mastery category. You’ll hear it in the first song, “O! Grace:”

From Chicago to West Virginia.
I’ve been as lonesome as the world’s first ghost.
As lonesome as the world’s first ghost.
But out here even the prairie doubts the horizon.
All I have to do is prove that I’m not pure.
Oh, the right words come but I ain’t talking.
The devil’s mean, but he’s honest just as sure.

It’s hard to explain why this album feels better than other incredible Magnolia albums. I don’t think the production is light years ahead, but I do think the supporting cast takes on a more prominent role in lifting the songs beyond what past efforts could accomplish. Each song’s texture varies, from the pedal steel on “Shenandoah” to the keys and horns on “Song for Willie.” And when the arrangements are simpler, the backing vocals and harmonies can stop you in your tracks like on “Whip-poor-will.” Other songs like “The Handing Down” and “Shiloh” burn with a growing intensity that is captivating.

Unlike stellar past works like What Comes After the Blues, it feels as if Molina is allowing the band to take more of an equal role in Josephine and the end result is both heartbreaking and uplifting. I’m telling everyone I know about this album.

Website | MySpace | Secretly Canadian

Magnolia Electric Co. – Josephine

Magnolia Electric Co. – Little Sad Eyes

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave August 12, 2009 at 12:44 pm

Couldn’t agree more — great great record. Caught the band last Saturday night in Dubuque (8/8/09– the last night of their U.S. tour) and the new songs sounded excellent in a live setting.

Evan August 12, 2009 at 1:15 pm

Nice review. This album is second only to Richmond Fontaine’s new one for best of the year for me.

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