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Magnolia Electric Co.: The Sojourner Returns

story by tim mcmahan



Lazy-i: Aug. 22, 2007

Magnolia Electric Co.
w/ Golden Boots, No Blood Orphan
Sunday, Aug. 26, 9p.m.
The Waiting Room
6212 Maple St.

What is there to know about Magnolia Electric Co. beyond the fact that the "company" is singer/songwriter Jason Molina and that his music is breathtakingly beautiful?

Molina's been releasing material for over a decade on indie label Secretly Canadian. You may recognize one of his early incarnations, specifically Songs: Ohia, but there also was Songs: Radix, Songs: Unitas, Songs: Albion, and work released merely under his name.

His music has roots in country, folk, indie and rock, but sounds like none of the above. Ultimately, it's his voice -- somber and lonely -- that fills Sojourner, a just-released box set on Secretly Canadian, that includes four new Magnolia Electric Co. albums, each with a unique sound, but all drawn together by Molina's songwriting and gossamer Orbison-esque voice.

Molina was on tour in Europe last week, but was able to answer a few questions via e-mail. Here's what he had to say:




To me, your voice is reminiscent of Roy Orbison's, another singer I admire. Did you ever listen to Roy growing up? What performers made an impression on your style?

Molina: I have always loved Roy's songs. The depth of the arrangements, especially at that early moment in rock and roll is unique. His voice is remarkable, but even looking at the lyrics there is something really special. I did listen to him but not with any intention to try to emulate his style. I still love to put him and Tom Petty on when I have to do any long drives.

You've worked with Nebraska's Mike Mogis on a few records. Why do you like working with Mike, and will you be working with him again in the future?

Mike is a wonderful engineer and also a fantastic musician. I would love to work again with him. The two projects that I did with him there in Lincoln are very special. The Pyramid Electric Co. and Ghost Tropic are some of my favorite song cycles. I appreciate his ability to translate non technical ideas that I have had into great sounding recordings. I'm very busy working on the new record and don't exactly have the map in my head as to what I want exactly out of it, but I've learned a lot from Mike and hope that some of those techniques and approaches that I admire in his work will follow me as I go.

You've played in Nebraska a few times over the years. What are your impressions (if any) of the state and its people?

I lived in Omaha for a short time. I have always loved the Midwest and I never tire of it or the people or the culture. I have been around the world playing music and I still couldn't really define what it is about Nebraska that I like so much. I do think it is an inspiring place to write. Some people want to write the Great American Novel. When I'm there, I try to write the Great American Song.

What music will you be playing in Omaha Aug. 26? Will it be a collection from the box set or from all your earlier records, or new material?

This show will be a cross section of songs from the new Sojourner record as well as some older and brand new material.

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Published in The Omaha Reader Aug. 22, 2007. Copyright 2007 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.







"Some people want to write the Great American Novel. When I'm there, I try to write the Great American Song."