Songs: Ohia

Songs: Ohia

Mi Sei Apparso Come Un Fantasma

Paper Cup

This is an Italian import, its title apparently translating as “You came to me as a ghost,” which is a rather accurate description of the music contained herein. Since its inception in the mid-’90s, Songs: Ohia has been on the move towards a somewhat dwelling sound, with songs that slowly unfurls over time. This live recording, including five previously released tracks and three new ones, captures the band in the middle of this process, exploring the music they strive towards capturing, quietly upsetting the structures of the written songs in what amounts to a series of jam sessions, almost. Several of the songs do tend to overstay their welcome, but there’s still enough to keep things interesting most of the time.

Jason Molina, who in effect is Songs: Ohia, is more than anything else a brilliant songwriter, solidly planted in an American blue collar-tradition while still managing to sound both contemporary and vital in his own right. There’s a muscular sound to most of the versions featured here, in the same manner that Springsteen sounds muscular — a Philly sound, perhaps, although there’s nothing here that actually imitates ’60s soul and funk explicitly. It’s folk music, for sure, but individualistic and, in a way, unhistorical music too. Refusing to let go of their idiosyncrasies, Songs: Ohia has a room of their own and is definitely worth checking out, although their regular studio releases may provide a better starting point for newcomers.

Paper Cup Records, available in the U.S. from Secretly Canadian Records:

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