On Magnolia Electric Co's third album, the group takes things down a notch, not in quality but in distortion and intensity. The result is Fading Trails, a more intimate and thoughtful album that could serve as the soundtrack to the more bittersweet moments of a Western film. This could be in part because much of the guitar work and, on occasion, Jason Molina's vocals are incredibly reminiscent of Neil Young, who was the solo soundtrack to film noir Western Dead Man ("Don't Fade on Me" being the best example). The song sees a heavy drum beat take the forefront at times, and occasionally the ringing of a pedal steel, both of which give way to an onslaught of Young-esque solos. "Montgomery" is similar, though Molina's distressed vocals are at their most weary. Fading Trails is beauty in sadness, the melancholy tone of the music couldn't change even if Molina were singing about rainbows and puppies. The majority of songs incorporate multiple instruments to one extent or another, but a few tunes are bleak solos made up of Molina's detached vocals and either a piano or an acoustic guitar. Fading Trails is a much more quiet and reserved album than either Trials & Errorsor What Comes After the Blues and at times lacks the intrigue of the two previous releases, but it's definitely not an album to overlook. What the cathartic Fading Trails might lack in foot-tapping motivation, it makes up for in passion and honesty and is highly recommended for those who like to dig a little deeper for albums that get better each time they are played.
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AllMusic Review by Megan Frye