Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know. He sounds like Neil Young. And what’s with all the hub-bub about the name changes? What’s the difference between Songs:Ohia, Pyramid Electric Co. and Magnolia Electric Co.? Why didn’t he just use his own name anyway? Who is this Jason Molina trying to fool?
Honestly, I could care less about all the tertiary items that surround this band. At the core, it’s the music that matters. And what we’ve got on our hands here is a damn fine album, with quality songs, earnestly performed by a great band. At times What Comes After the Blues seems a little self conscious, as if Molina and friends carry the weight of their fans’ expectations with them into the studio.
And while it might be easy to dismiss them as derivative of their influences and of themselves, what’s the point in that? There are elements within this album that signal Molina’s growth both artistically and personally – his comfort with relinquishing the control of a solo artist by stepping away from faux band moniker he hid behind for so long and fully embracing this group, tackling issues of loss and resolution, exposing himself to his demons: “No one should forgive me / I knew what I stood to lose / Am I better off now just forgetting / how I came to earn the North Star blues?”
What Comes After the Blues is a truly sad and beautiful album that serves as a downbeat musical wake for Molina’s past personas. It takes you to some uncomfortable places, but always reassures you’re never alone and that things will work out if you just give it a chance.