Songs: Ohia – Didn’t It Rain – Deluxe Reissue (ALBUM REVIEW)

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songohiaalbumThere’s something so haunting and dreamlike in Jason Molina’s voice, and when you hear it, you’re left with an inherent understanding that you’ll never be the same again. More than a year since his passing, the music world is still mourning the loss of this brilliant talent through deluxe reissues and touching tributes. Last year saw the Songs: Ohia reissue of The Magnolia Electric Co., followed by the stunning covers record Farewell Transmission: The Music of Jason Molina that features artists like My Morning Jacket and Water Liars doing their interpretations of his songs. Now, as a continuation of the undeniable appreciation of the mark left by Molina comes another loaded reissue, this time of Songs: Ohia’s 2002 record Didn’t it Rain.

Like last year’s Magnolia Electric Co. reissue, Rain has been released by Secretly Canadian, and is made up of two separate LPs, one of the original recordings, and one of Molina’s demos. Both are tour de force, and even if you’re listening to this in your headphones (as opposed to the vinyl listen it so deserves), you won’t be tempted to skip over any repeats. This is because each song, both album version and demo, is masterful and unique in its own right. Demos find Molina taking his time a bit more, and of course lend that more intimate sound. They’re not quite as polished, resulting in an intense rawness that simply must be heard.

Beginning with the title track, a song that simply feels too beautiful to be true, and flowing through songs like the ominous “Blue Factory Flame” and the folksy “Steve Albini’s Blues”, we get that classic Molina pain. And it hurts more than ever when we remember he’s gone, especially when he sings about “endless depression” in “Blue Chicago Moon”. “You are not helpless/Try to beat it/And live through space’s loneliness,” he sings, more poignant now than ever before.

“Blue Chicago Moon” is perhaps the toughest to listen to on Rain. Not because it isn’t an amazing song, but because it hits so close to home. Knowing the demons Molina battled with up until the end of his life, this song sounds like a peek inside his tortured psyche. The chilled out, bluesy guitar, piano and percussion adds a kind of smoky, coldness to this song, and features some of Molina’s most impressive vocals.

“Didn’t it Rain” is a solemn ode to seeking truth. Its unpredictable, but magnificently beautiful melody, mixed with Jennie Bedford’s accompanying harmonies and trembling mandolin. This song feels like a pivotal Molina moment—something so complex evoked through something so simple. If it doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, it will no doubt leave you in a darker place than before.  But the beauty of Molina’s music is that it opens that possibility up to us. It pushes us to explore the darkness inside of us, and we end up feeling thankful for it.

It never gets easier to reconcile with the fact that we no longer have Molina with us. But thanks to his hefty catalog of some of the most incredible songwriting, we’re still lucky enough to be able to hear his voice in all its tragically ethereal glory. Didn’t it Rain is a collection of slow, melancholy songs, to be sure, but its power can’t be denied, and shouldn’t.

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