The Living and the Dead
Nomadic songstress Jolie Holland is back with her newest string of songs, The Living and the Dead. This patiently awaited fourth album combines the raw and simple tones born of Holland’s first release, Catalpa, with the fuller instrumentation and more polished maturity shown in her later work. It is a beautiful fusion of lonesome blues and lazily paced alt-country, poured through hollow-bodied electric tones and melted against Holland’s vocals. Her unique approach to singing syllables turns words abstract and beautiful, and is shown right off with the album’s first track, “Mexico City,” where Holland spills out twisted pronunciations: “Jack and Edie lying across my bed/ Flying high like the spirits of the dead.” Holland’s real appeal is her ability to always keep an intimate, candid feel on recordings such as “You Painted Yourself In,” which gives the impression of being nestled right next to her and her guitar as they harmonize. Not only that, but the woman whistles with a fiercely dead-on pitch, which is a bonus to an all-around impressive album.