this is a great contradiction. in some ways, it is sadly understated. almost entirely, it is stunningly beautiful.
the first song is alasdair, the second is will, the third is jason – the second lot of three songs ostensibly follow the same pattern. they are perfectly contained distillations of each of their respective strengths.
the first, maa bonny lad, is a traditional song carried with alasdair’s broad scottish accent and use of language. for him you know it’s about his identity at its most fundamental.
the second, my donal, is more tended toward will’s penchant for obscure covers, in this case the work of a scottish musician of the 1960s, owen hand, who apparently burned bright and returned to normal life.
the third song, the gypsy he-witch, is jason at his resonant best. the deep warmth of his guitar offset by the gorgeous higher tones of his voice. it seems like a dark place to be, but there is life-giving force in it.
the fourth song, the last house, starts blending them more, reflecting alasdair’s almost indecipherable singing again with warm acoustic strumming of will’s quieter work and a very faint sense of jason’s blues organ in the background.
the fifth song, major march, is another will creation, very like even if love off master and everyone two years later. it was enough to bug me to remember, because as i listened, the foreboding melody and lyrics of that song came straight to mind.
the sixth and “final” song, jennie blackbird’s blues, breaks my heart and made the tears come again. it’s everything that exemplifies why jason was miles away from will, and his capacity to evoke emotion almost unparalleled. i have realised now that only the dirty three manage to elicit the same response from me. and it’s purely natural – not forced. some musicians tell you how you should be feeling, and only nights ago i wanted a band to give me more indicators of how i should feel when i listened. jason molina’s skill was in constructing music that had equal parts ambiguity and clarity.
the collaboration gifts a final treasure, past the 15 minute mark of silence on the last song, of the rollicking palace brothers era, allowing everyone their voice. its lyrics are the poem contained on the inside sleeve.
anyone might think upon reading this, or listening to the ep itself, that there is a lack of coherence. surprisingly, there is not. it felt like three bright burning stars brushing perilously close together, quietly, without much recognition that the end of the universe was narrowly averted. and it was spectacular.
i been looking at the stars in the sky tonight
and it looks like there’s room for mine
so i will be good
[the following aren’t here for the images, but for the sound…]