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Bleeding Pure Hopelessness, in All the Right Ways

Jason Molina is prolific enough to bury his best work.
Jason Molina is prolific enough to bury his best work.

Pity the Jason Molina completist: Like peer Will Oldham, the idiosyncratic singer-songwriter remains maddeningly prolific, not to mention given to releasing albums under different names (his own, plus Songs:Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co) and in styles ranging from sprawling, Neil Young-esque rock to painfully intimate solo acoustic confessionals.

He also tends to bury his best work: Magnolia Electric Co has a fine rock disc (Fading Trails) coming out in September, but it's preceded by the superior Let Me Go, Let Me Go, Let Me Go, a remarkable solo album available only on limited-edition vinyl. (Fortunately for the turntable-challenged, it's packaged with a CD.) That may be a product of Molina having genius to waste — he's reportedly recorded half a dozen albums' worth of material in recent months — but it's maddening, given how harrowingly beautiful the solo material is.

Granted, Let Me Go, Let Me Go, Let Me Go isn't exactly brimming with commercial potential: A grim half-hour meditation on depression and dismay, it's almost brutally spare, and notably stingy with the redemption. On its best track, the mesmerizing "Get Out Get Out Get Out," Molina bleeds pure hopelessness: "I lived low enough so the moon wouldn't waste its light on me," he sings, ornamented by a plodding drum-machine beat and a few minimalist strums on an acoustic guitar. It's Molina at his bleakly hypnotic best — wracked with agony but understated in all the right places.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)