Glen Hansard of the Frames and the Swell Season was a friend, a fan, and a peer of Jason Molina, the gifted but troubled songwriter and leader of Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co., and two years after Molina lost his life, Hansard has offered a tribute in the form of this EP, in which he interprets five of Molina's songs. A short EP issued two years after Molina's death might make It Was Triumph We Once Proposed: Songs of Jason Molina sound like something of an afterthought...that is, until you listen to it. Within the first few moments of It Was Triumph We Once Proposed, it's clear that Hansard has not taken the easy path with the material or his performances. The first words sung on the first track are "Being in love means you are completely broken," and for the next 25 minutes Hansard gives us a tour through the dark and lonely spaces of the heart and soul, a place where there is joy but not without struggle or sacrifice, as reflected in this handful of songs. Hansard doesn't merely sing these songs, he inhabits them, and his passion, palpable without becoming histrionic, seems very much a product of the knowledge he has of the man who wrote and performed this music. The booklet includes a fanzine interview Hansard conducted with Molina in 1999 (as well as fliers for shows they played together), and reading the piece leaves no doubt that Hansard admired and respected Molina, as both an artist and a human being. But Hansard's slow but deeply felt explorations of "Hold on Magnolia" and "Farewell Transmission" suggest this not simply an homage, but an effort to ease into the mind of this gifted but tragic individual, as he comes to terms with the darkness that took away his friend. It Was Triumph We Once Proposed often deals with emotionally difficult terrain, but Hansard finds a dark but genuine beauty in Molina's work, and this EP is a striking, heartfelt testimony as to why Molina's legacy should and must be remembered.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming