Magnolia Electric Co
Hard to Love a Man
I’m getting awfully tired of hearing people say that Magnolia Electric Co is the inferior of Jason Molina’s two career projects. It’s almost like the minute amount of country-rock accessibility he’s added to MEC leaves too bitter a taste in the mouths of fans of his slow-burning hard rock turn as Songs Ohia. If that tinge was unacceptable before, Hard to Love a Man isn’t going to convince any of the naysayers to come back to the fold, but it will definitely please fans of Molina’s timelessly weary characters and midnight environments.
The title track, culled from MEC’s last disc, is a stand-out of rough hewn melancholia; it’s gentle, with strong fingerpicking underscored by tears of lap steel. It sets the tone for the remaining four tracks, all of which do little to deviate from this formula. “Doing Something Wrong” is Molina at his most defeated and determined. “31 Seasons in the Minor Leagues” is a surprise, revealing Molina’s sense of humor by fashioning a more downbeat version of “Casey at the Bat.” The EP closes with a raucous cover of Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London,” a perfect lyrical fit for MEC and a heady dose of energy to close out an otherwise laidback album.
This is the third MEC release of 2005, and coupled with their seemingly endless tour schedule, Molina’s train will keep rolling for a long time coming; and as good as Songs Ohia was, Magnolia Electric Co is just beginning to pick up steam.
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