Recorded live in a single room, with no overdubs and musicians creating their parts on the fly, the overall approach to the recording was nothing new for Jason Molina. But something in the air and execution of Didn’t It Rain clearly sets it apart from his existing body of work. His albums had always been full of space, but never had Molina sculpted the space as masterfully as he does on Didn’t It Rain. The creaks and scraping of strings are all part of the Didn’t It Rain choir. So when Molina hoots for another chorus during the album’s eponymous opening gambit, it feels less an off-the-cuff call, and more an essential piece of the tone and structure. Midway through the same song, we hear the long, low woosh of a passing bus. Distant traffic has forever been a trope of lo-fi, but here, it is a pristine woosh. The highest of fidelity and sure of purpose. The same can be said for Molina’s always remarkable voice, here settling into a matured, assured, and subtly lowered tenor. It all adds up to something near in mood to Neil Young’s song “On The Beach,” and maybe even Boz Scagg’s 1969 self-titled album laid to tape at the legendary Muscle Shoals studio.
Didn’t It Rain is an ode to the Midwest Rust Belt under which Molina was born and Molina’s newfound Chicago home. When we move to a new place, we must truly confront all our own weaknesses and strengths, and Molina puts that all on the table with this one. The album’s triple-threat center pieces come by way of “Ring The Bell,” “Cross The Road, Molina,” and “Blue Factory Flame.” Strung together, they present clearly Molina’s specific set of mythological symbols that had been forming on previous recordings. But the journey across these three songs – with their circling serpents, their neon-flame wreathed moons, their swinging blades, their debilitating emptiness – also feels like a cleansing, a catharsis, a sort of primal therapy.
This expanded reissue presents Molina’s home demos of the record, eight previously unreleased tracks, complete with a distant playground full of children chiming in the background for a few songs. The glorious juxtaposition of Molina’s songs’ desolation and the blissful playing of children is about as haunting as it gets. The deluxe edition of Didn’t It Rain will see release via Secretly Canadian on November 11th.
DIDN’T IT RAIN: DELUXE EDITION TRACK LISTING
LP1 (ORIGINAL ALBUM)
1. Didn’t It Rain
2. Steve Albini’s Blues
3. Ring The Bell
4. Cross The Road, Molina
5. Blue Factory Flame
6. Two Blue Lights
7. Blue Chicago Moon
1. Didn’t It Rain
2. Ring the Bell, Working Title: Depression No. 42
3. Cross the Road, Molina, Working Title: Chicago City Moon
4. Blue Factory Flame
5. Two Blue Lights
6. Blue Chicago Moon
7. The Gray Tour, Working Title: Waiting It’s Whole Life (Later Re-Recorded for The Grey Tower 7″)
8. Spectral Alphabet (Later Re-Recorded for Pyramid Electric Co.)