released Nov 3rd

Molina & Johnson

from the album - Twenty Circles To The Ground
YouTube - Molina & Johnson - Twenty Cycles To The Ground

from amg

Comprised of lauded indie folk songwriters Jason Molina (Magnolia Electric Co., Songs: Ohia) and Will Johnson (Centro-Matic, South San Gabriel), Molina & Johnson came to fruition in 2009 with the arrival of an eponymous debut album. Released on the Secretly Canadian label, the record was made in February with the help of family and friends, including Howard Draper, Bryan VanDivier, Scott Danbom, Magnolia Electric Co.'s Michael Kapinus, and Texas-based songwriter Sara Jaffe. The soulful, rustic, and poetic 14-song collection arrived in early November.

album review

It would be silly to pretend that an album like Molina & Johnson was created in a vacuum, when the principals Jason Molina and Will Johnson each have such a rich history behind them. The two singer/songwriters are best known for Magnolia Electric Co. and Centro-Matic, respectively, but it's their other, more explicitly rootsy/acoustic projects, Johnson's indie folk alter ego South San Gabriel and Molina's Songs: Ohia that are more relevant to the pair's collaborative outing. For the most part, Molina & Johnson is even more stripped-down than the latter two bands. Things start off at a deceptively brisk clip at least brisk for this album with "Twenty Cycles to the Ground," the fullest-sounding track here, featuring lambent electric guitar licks, atmospheric organ lines, and an actual drum kit. Neither drums nor anything even approaching midtempo appear again on this album dominated by spare, slow-and-low ballads. That's not a pejorative observation, though sparse settings and an unhurried pace are exactly what these tunes require to put their point across. One of the most interesting things about the results of this partnership is the way these two alt-Americana troubadours, who generally seem to have so much in common, start to show their differences when crunched up so close together. Molina, whose voice has suggested Will Oldham with better pitch control ever since his Songs: Ohia days, is very much in the songpoet mode, crafting resonant images with a powerful and precise use of imagery. Johnson, meanwhile, bears a slightly lower, gruffer tone and traffics in a more personal, conceptually evanescent brand of songwriting his sound might feel closer to the ground, but he's somehow harder to pin down. Together, usually accompanied by little more than acoustic guitar and piano, they create emotionally rich musical miniatures that only ever take up as much room both musically and lyrically as they need.

Track Listing
1 Twenty Circles to the Ground 03:07
2 All Falls Together 02:21
3 All Gone, All Gone 03:53
4 Almost Let You In 03:25
5 In the Avalon/Little Killer 03:22
6 Don't Take My Night from Me 01:49
7 Each Star Marks a Day 03:41
8 Lenore's Lullaby 05:23
9 The Lily and the Brakerman 02:35
10 Now, Divide 02:53
11 What You Reckon, What You Breathe 05:49
12 For as Long as It Will Matter 02:58
13 34 Blues 02:52
14 Wooden Heart 03:33