Magnolia Electric Co. | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Magnolia Electric Co.

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Back in 2003 Jason Molina 86ed the name of his long-running band, Songs: Ohia, telling me at the time that he planned to start using an ever-changing array of descriptors preceding "Electric Co." It'd then be clear, he argued, that though there was a certain consistency to the band--i.e., him--the lineup was in constant flux. But after issuing a solo album last year under the name Pyramid Electric Co., he's stuck with the Magnolia tag. Perhaps he hasn't felt a change necessary just yet: though musicians still move in and out, Molina works with a core of regular players, and his style has been consistent now for the longest stretch in his career. Listening to his latest album, What Comes After the Blues (Secretly Canadian), it's clear that he's settled in a good place. The record consolidates many of the themes he's explored for the past eight years: tender country rock, driving, Neil Young-ish rockers like "The Dark Don't Hide It," and forlorn, mountain-style ballads like "The Night Shift Lullaby," written by Jennie Benford of Jim and Jennie & the Pinetops, who sings it with a desperate sadness. Molina has a natural feel for rural American music, and though his appealingly wobbly vocal delivery defines the tunes, they get some added depth from Benford's bluegrass-inflected singing, Mike Brenner's lyrical pedal steel, Dan MacAdam's violin lines, and other guest contributions. This show is part of the Intonation Music Festival; for a complete schedule see page 40. Sat 7/16, 3:30 PM, Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph, www.intonationmusicfest.com, $15. All ages.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Dylan Long.

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