Monday, September 26, 2016

Magnolia Electric Co - What Comes After the Blues

What Comes After The Blues was the first album proper by Magnolia Electric Co.  Released in 2005, it sees Jason Molina and co embrace the country rock vibe.  The Dark Don't Hide It puts the emphasis on the 'rock' with crunching Crazy Horse style riffs married to a Nashville y'all sway.  Country music for people who don't like country music, it's one of Molina's strongest rockers and his fine guitar work bears this out.  The second track The Night Shift Lullaby hands over lead vocal duties to Jennie Benford but it doesn't lack for intensity, with a country rock swagger, switching between hard-riffing electric and deftly plucked acoustic guitars.

There's a change of tack on the country soul of Leave The City with Mike Brenner's steel guitar joined by trumpet courtesy of Michael Kapinus.  However the ghost of Neil Young is never far away, and acoustic ballad Hard To Love A Man is every bit as good as any of Young's more stripped down moments.  Molina and Benford's harmonies evoke a modern day version of Neil and Emmylou Harris, while the Wurlitzer creates a timeless, eerie feel.  Give Something Else Away Every Day is a deathly slow trudge through molasses, worthy of Young's Ditch trilogy, here they get the slow, drowsy plod of Crazy Horse just right.  After this the album turns folkier, Northstar Blues and Hammer Down are spare, unadorned alt-country folk, with I Can Not Have Seen The Light taking a darker turn.

Dark country rock aficionados need to pick this one up.  A (brief) album of serious quality.