Various Artists

Farewell Transmission: The Music of Jason Molina

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Farewell Transmission: The Music of Jason Molina is the third tribute album the visionary artist behind Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Company has received in the year since his passing. Each is a benefit offering; net proceeds are distributed to Molina's surviving family and MusicCares. Molina was deeply respected by other musicians and loved by a small but fiercely dedicated cadre of fans. His work is more than that of the nakedly confessional songwriter he was often portrayed as. He was a poet and bluesman at heart, but too humble to call himself either. His songs are not bound by time or genre. They inhabit an opaque terrain between blues, Americana, rock, folk, and more mercurial root sounds. Though simply constrcuted, they are mysterious, pointing simultaneously inward and somewhere beyond the confines of the physical world. This double-disc contains performances by the Memorial Electric Company -- Molina's bandmates from Songs: Ohia and MEC. The first is the homage, "Arm in Arm," a melancholy rocker written by guitarist Peter Schreiner. The other is Molina's "Trouble in Mind (Fade to Blue)," a concert favorite that was never recorded. My Morning Jacket's long, completely revisioned reading of the title track is a set highlight, as is "Almost Was Good Enough," a reverent collaboration between MMJ singer Jim James and Bro. Stephen. The Squares challenge tradition by relating a raucous, near-cacophonous "Get Out Get Out Get Out" that extends its original's reach. Sarah Jaffe's "Alone with the Owl" features an elliptical synth, piano, and acoustic guitar that provide a long intro to her ghostly vocal. Matt Bauer and Mount Moriah's Heather McEntire deliver a lean and moving duet on "I Can Not Have Seen the Light." "34 Blues" is a gorgeous, modal, droning, folk-blues illustrated by an ethereal sense of drama by Will Johnson and Britton Beisenherz. Freakwater's Catherine Irwin offers a doomy banjo, fiddle, and guitar version of "Steve Albini's Blues" that underscores Molina's deep love for not only the 12-bar form, but early 20th century Appalachian music. The tender reading of "Lioness" is beautifully articulated by Viking Moses, while "The Big Game Is Every Night" is wrought with scorching intensity by Bottomless Pit. Communist Daughter's skeletal waltz on "Hold on Magnolia" underscores the romantic tenderness that Molina was often displayed; its lyric construction links to an earlier American songwriter: Stephen Foster. Jonny James & the Hall of Fames offer "John Henry Split My Heart" with Lynyrd Skynyrd-esque Southern rock; it lightens up a bit in the middle before a scorching slide guitar, cracking drums, and a humming bassline paint Jacy Pelstring's soaring vocal bridges past to present. It's true--and expected-- that with over 27 tracks -- like any other tribute record -- there are uneven selections here. This set is more ambitious than its two predecessors, and reveals Molina's ever-widening influence among not only peers but a new generation. He may yet get his due.

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