Songs: Ohia: Didn't It Rain
Never has a Songs: Ohia album's process been so integral to its overall feel as is the case with DIDN'T IT RAIN, the band's sixth proper full-length. The album, like the working class South Philadelphia neighborhood in which it was birthed, has a real used goods kinda feel to it. Engineer Edan Cohen employed what some may consider "old-fashioned" recording techniques -- the entire album was recorded live with no overdubs, the full band playing in one room with the players always within arms' reach of one another; singers Jason Molina, Jennie Benford and Jim Krewson (the latter two of Jim & Jennie And The Pinetops) sharing microphones singing live together, sometimes sitting in chairs, sometimes standing. The result is a sound which resembles the warmth and personality of the classic Muscle Shoals Sound recordings of the early- to mid-70s: Willie Nelson's PHASES & STAGES, the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses", and others by Aretha Franklin, Boz Scaggs, Bob Seger, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Wilson Pickett.
Inspired by the Mahalia Jackson song of the same name, the title track is a beautiful song about the shifting tides of life and the old cycle of "a lot of shit going down before shit clears up". It's a damn fine place to start an album that seems in no hurry whatsoever to make a universal statement, instead perfectly content to walk its own path toward resolution. And damn if Songs: Ohia principal songwriter Jason Molina hasn't gone and created a record that is even more intensely personal and healing than any of his previous works. Neil Young had his AFTER THE GOLDRUSH, this is Molina's DIDN'T IT RAIN. Indeed, this is the album with which Molina really leaves his mark as a serious songwriter and artist. On 1999's genre-bending Ghost Tropic full-length, Songs: Ohia made it clear that it could make a cohesive album that took its listener on a journey from front to back. Its dislocated feel set a haunting tone, and its largely instrumental and drone-like quality was the process of the Ohia eluding itself and its own tendencies, searching for the underside of its roots freshly yanked. With DIDN'T IT RAIN, Molina & Co. return to the beauty of the song form and offer up a startlingly soulful and introspective song cycle in which Molina -- accepting a comfortable degree of anonymity amongst the other players -- meditates on what it means to feel rooted again (in the city of Chicago, where he's called home for the past three years), sounding more sturdy at his core than ever.