There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Ohio-bred Jason Molina, the main player in the mostly one-man band Songs:Ohia, spins tales of lonesome woe and tribulation on his third full-length album in little over two years. The young singer-songwriter, this time backed by drum and occasional organ, ventures into neo-folk territory, thoughtfully strumming and earnestly philosophizing with an air of premature gravity. His mood suggests he’s taking respite from a never-ending quest for some unknown treasure. Molina has been pegged as a Will Oldham acolyte, and he proves himself worthy of the comparison with Impala’s anachronisms and lyrical sentiments. With sorrow and grace, his clear tenor issues quaint lyrics that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Thomas Hardy novel. “Hearts Newly Arrived” and “Till Morning Reputations,” with their soft abstractions, folk melodies, and references to an ever-mysterious “she” hark back to early Neil Young or Phil Ochs. But there’s a darker side to the sound too: The urgency of a wartime rallying cry meshes with insistent guitar on “One of Those Uncertain Hands,” wherein Molina proclaims, “My bones shall rise up muskets/My feet are at the threshold/and disaster warms our soil.” Apparently he has a fascination with military antiquities as well. Musically, the songs are straightforwardly built around simple chord changes and heightened by his dynamic vocal range. The pace drags a bit, and sometimes the melancholia gets a little out of hand, but Molina’s singular perspective ultimately wins out, making Impala a pleasant and poignant listen.Amy Domingues