Under Review

Magnolia Electric Co.

Fading Trails

Secretly Canadian

Review By Mono Brown

Like many, I’m not-so-secretly a fan of anything Secretly Canadian. Antony and the Johnsons, Danielson, Songs: Ohia, the Impossible Shapes—I like them all unabashedly. And because of my affection for much of the Secretly Canadian roster, I feel obligated to admit that I had a tepid first date with Fading Trails, the latest LP produced by Magnolia Electric Co. Perhaps my lukewarm response had more to do with great expectations, since Fading Trails itself boasts both a winning line-up and guest appearances by the likes of Andrew Bird. Besides that, Secretly Canadian has backed Magnolia Electric Co.’s principal, Jason Molina, with nothing shy of fervour, promising to release five more Molina albums along with Fading Trails.
Due on shelves September 12th, Fading Trails is a conscientious folk album in an era of sing-a-long ensembles and folk-infused musical cross-pollination. Songs like “Don’t Fade On Me” and “Memphis Moon” are pretty, honest, and introspective, and the album itself achieves a simple, uncompromisingly consistent folk sound—refreshingly reduced to elemental acoustic guitar progressions inflected with percussion where necessary.
In an interview with Billboard this past June, Molina divulged that Fading Trails is comprised of nine songs culled from the recording sessions in which he produced the five other releases due out on Secretly Canadian—somewhat of a surprise, since the album plays from end-to-end as if it were itself a twenty-eight minute piece with minor variations. I think that the slow, waning mood of Fading Trails will make it a good companion when the rainy season arrives, but until then I’ll chock up my disappointment with the release to its length (the album ends just when you feel you’re getting to know it) and its momentum, which fades off during “Talk to Me Devil, Again.” That the album left me somewhat wanting was perhaps Molina’s overall intent, seeing as he has a slew of new albums to follow. But I think I’ll still need more time to get to know and appreciate Fading Trails before I’m ready to move on.