The LP debut from Jason Molina (Magnolia Electric Co.) and Will Johnson (Centro-Matic, South San Gabriel) plays out almost exactly as expected considering the ingredients: two men with the dark, dark blues, the tools of Americana at their fingertips, and the broad Texas sky overhead. Molina And Johnson is almost brutally spare, aiming only to capture the fleeting beauty of a one-off collaboration, then drift back out on the barely perceptible breeze that blew it here. The opener, “Twenty Cycles To The Ground,” shuffles to a feathery drumbeat, while “Lenore’s Lullaby” would float away without its grounding piano hits. Like most of the record, both are pretty but underwhelming—and easily outdone when Johnson mingles his husky croon with that of guest Sarah Jaffe (accompanied by a singing saw) on “All Gone, All Gone.” The record does pack one unfortunate surprise: The titular Molina and Johnson only trade verses on a single song, “Almost Let You In,” which, unsurprisingly, is the album’s best. This doesn’t prevent Molina from turning in a gut-wrenching performance on the closer, “Wooden Heart”—and Johnson scores a highlight with the Waits-gruff “In The Avalon/Little Killer”—but more could have come from this meeting of minds if there were a bit more actual meeting.
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