There’s much to be said about Jason Molina, who passed away today. I’m sure there’ll be lots written – he was one of indie’s unsure, unheralded giants. From Songs: Ohia’s devastating, melancholy meanderings to the more bluesy rigmarole of Magnolia Electric Co, Molina was a phenomenally competent songwriter and band leader.
I can’t say anything about his work that hasn’t already been said, or is likely to be repeated over the next week, but I do feel some aspects of his work need constant reiteration, lest they ever be forgotten. My first proper introduction to Molina was his 2006 solo album, It’s Easier Now. From the opening track’s utterance of the titular lyrics, I was never going to do anything but fall in love with his booming, emotive voice. Molina sings like few people I’ve ever heard – his voice actually travels and it’s never been coated in anything other than sort of honesty you’d expect from one of the greatest artists of his generation. His command over dynamics, over soft and loud, over theatrics and subtlety are unmatched, as his ability to sing what should be maudlin songs, but are instead the sort of eviscerating, destructively honest songs that only a few can muster up regularly.
It’s Easier Now and Songs: Ohia’s The Lioness and Didn’t It Rain are some of my favourite albums ever. This is music that is desolate but incessantly genuine. It’s music made by someone who was at the peak of his abilities nearly throughout his sojourn on this piece of rock and dust.
Molina was someone whose music, despite its scope and breadth, never really lifted the veneer off whatever was going on in his head. It’s something we’ll never know either, and perhaps we aren’t meant. Maybe this is how it was always supposed to be, and an album full of achievement and happiness was never supposed to be forthcoming.
But ultimately, it matters not a jot – Molina’s body of work is as good as anyone else’s, and it’s one of life’s greatest failures that a man, and a musician, as irrevocably brilliant as Jason Molina, will never get to sit down and look back at what he’s done and the lives he’s touched and mended over his life.