The artfully brooding songwriter Jason Molina died last year at 39. He had stomped through his life leaving a trail of albums in his wake, so it makes sense that this tribute sprawls across two CDs. A meaty collection of singer-songwriter, alt-country, and indie-rock types take turns burrowing into these songs’ essential darkness. Most contributors either emulate Molina’s earthy rock or refract it into smaller pieces. Catherine Irwin locates “Steve Albini’s Blues” in the mist of Appalachia. Wooden Wand strips the blues-rocker “Don’t This Look Like the Dark” to an acoustic reading that mines its pathos. Sarah Jaffe entirely inhabits “Alone With the Owl,” her understated but cutting vocals hitting deep under the skin. When she sings a line like “While I lived, was I anything at all? Did I have to live this way?” the heart splinters. This makes for a long, draining listen. But diehards will bliss out in its unhurried stroll through the corridors of a haunted mind. (Out Tuesday)
JEREMY D. GOODWIN
ESSENTIAL: “Alone With the Owl”Jeremy D. Goodwin can be reached at email@example.com.