Songs: Ohia takes a big step forward with Axxess & Ace, both in ambition and accessibility. Whereas the self-titled debut and the follow-up, Impala, could be esoteric and downright depressing in places, Axxess weaves intensely personal lyrics with universal worries and anxieties to create a rich musical tapestry. An all-star team of Chicago-based musicians, including Joe Ferguson of Pinetop Seven, Julie Liu of Rex, and Boxhead Ensemble's Michael Krassner add musical support, while Edith Frost sings backup on a few numbers. The musicians heard songwriter Jason Molina's planned songs for the first time on the day of recording and performed them almost entirely live; the finished product is one of spontaneity yet surprising fullness. Any exploration of the music of Songs: Ohia should start with this album.