Almost 20 years after Jason Molina’s voice first rang out from Ohio, in this brave new world of streaming, the discussion surrounding the resurgence of vinyl rarely includes the 7″. The original and re-imagined underground aural morsels once housed in the format are now buried in digital EPs and embeddable media. The tangible, wax-fabricated evidence of a self-producing culture of creativity has given way to this modern age. But it is our hope that Molina’s unabashed utterances and refusal of trend are honored across the 18 sides of this collection–a thoughtfully resurrected series of tokens to a great artist gone too soon, to hear and to hold, and to live on in those who were there and those who wish they would have been. Gathered within Journey On: Collected Singles are the charming, haunting and — much like the totality of the Songs: Ohia catalogue — elegantly disparate moments lost in the void of limited pressings and merch tables at last-minute shows that Molina often booked mid-tour from payphones across the country. Throughout the band’s storied course Molina’s creative prolificacy often outran the pace and resources of pre-laptop production, which is why the 7″ record became an integral component to the dynamism of Songs: Ohia.
We know “Freedom Pt. 2” and “Soul” as the Nor Cease Thou Never Now 7″ on Palace Records that, in 1996, breathed life into Songs: Ohia as we know it. Those two tracks cleared the course for the impassioned, front-and-center quaver we’d invite into our headphones over — depending how you count them — seven proper studio LPs,three EPs, and numerous singles and tour-only releases during the life of Songs: Ohia. “Cabwaylingo,” the captivating acoustic opener of the 1997 self-titled “Black Album,” memorable in its flourishes of brushed drums, meandering banjo and of course, that voice, is resurrected here as “Vanquisher,” a haunting 1998 reimagining in which Molina convinces us that there are “fewer greater former ghosts” over gentle electric guitar lines as clear as his hushed-yet-confident oration. The beloved “Lioness” reappears with the addition of Molina collaborator and comrade Jennie Benford of Jim & Jennie And The Pinetops, lending a powerfully somber layer to “the look of the lioness to her man across the Nile.”
These are but a few of the gems mined from the caverns of the Songs: Ohia singles spanning the six years until Molina’s hushed formation of the Magnolia Electric Co. It’s here we relive his generous and honest performances, his humor and his heart. These aren’t the maudlin ramblings so often pegged in the press, but the triumphant tales spun from the mind of an ordinary Midwestern man as goofy as he was fervent, who was able to execute an extraordinary body of work in a short amount of time.