Armed with a haunting voice and a six-string guitar, Jason Molina released 19 albums in 15 years. On March 16th, 2013, the singer-songwriter died of organ failure due to complications with alcohol. He was just 39 years old.
“It will get so quiet when the record ends.”
I first heard Songs: Ohia (one of the many constantly-evolving monikers Molina chose over the years) in 2000 after someone implored me to listen to the then just-released album The Lioness. “This is the soundtrack to heartbreak,” I was told, which, at the time, was quite fitting. The title track wrapped its jaws around me then and holds me to this day.
Looking back after all of these years, for me, Molina’s work isn’t really about heartbreak as much as it is about the difficulty in forging and maintaining meaningful connections. The two are inextricably linked, but not necessarily the same. Molina's work is the sonic embodiment of the struggle and triumph of the human experience. His expert use of dynamic echoes the peaks and valleys of a lifetime of joy and loss.
Though lauded by critics, his countless contributions to the music world only garnered a small following with roughly 200,000 albums sold. Molina’s sprawling, intractable body of work touches on the classic tropes of country and folk in both sound and subject, but serves as an inherently personal journey with a force of spirit and honesty that is rarely achieved.
Don’t take our word for it. Just listen.
You can also pre-order the biography Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost at the Secretly Canadian webstore.