Songs: Ohia, “Just Be Simple”

Jason Molina knew the blues. The singer-songwriter behind Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. wasn’t a traditionalist or even a conventional blues musician --- to hear his music, you wouldn’t think to call it that. More often his style is a dark and haunting folk-rock, sometimes infused with the rock-and-roll roar of Crazy Horse at their most raggedly glorious and elsewhere stark to the point of being eerily skeletal. “Just Be Simple,” on Songs: Ohia’s final album Magnolia Electric Co. --- or Magnolia Electric Co.’s first album depending on how you look at it --- is somewhere between those two poles, soulful and stinging with a desperate loneliness, but carrying a grit that gives it a glimmer of hope even when the sadness is overwhelming.  The Molina at the heart of “Just Be Simple” isn’t at peace with his depression and isolation, but he acknowledges it with a plainspoken, matter-of-fact sensibility. “You’ll never hear me talk about one day getting out,” he sings. “Why put a new address on the same old loneliness?” It sounds bleak, even fatalistic, but there’s something almost zen-like in the way Molina frames the darkness that follows him. He doesn’t long for genuine happiness: “If…

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