Jolie Holland


San Francisco singer/guitarist Jolie Holland’s Web site ( describes her music as “put[ting] a new spin on rural Americana with jazz-informed textures and back-alley poetry.” That’s about right. Holland’s Catalpa, a collection of mostly originals, most recorded in one night in her friend’s living room “for the sole purpose of learning the songs,” is quaint, charming and haunting (Holland describes her own songs as “spooky American fairytales”). Catalpa is refreshing in its likeable combination of eeriness mixed with a lullaby-like quality. Holland’s voice at times has a girlishness, with barely pronounced words akin to the magical vocalizations of Rickie Lee Jones. She can also sound old, or from another time. On “Wandering Angus,” a W. B. Yeats poem put to music by electric guitarist Brian Miller, Holland’s voice is shakily passionate and thoroughly believable: “Though I am old with wandering…” “Wandering Angus” ends with Miller’s shimmery volume-pedal-controlled sounds intended to sound “like a golden apple in the sun.” A peculiar little gem of an album.