Jolie Holland

Witches have their familiars. Jolie Holland has whole hosts of critters dwelling within the dipping fleurs-de-lis and Rococo ruffles of her music. Most of them are winged, but as Holland reminds us with the title of her third full-length, Springtime Can Kill You, airborne beasts such as ghosts, mockingbirds and memories are dangerous things to pin down. Of course, that doesn't stop her from netting the flightier denizens of her soul and locking them in twelve exquisite, gilded cages; the dozen songs of Springtime span anguish and transcendentally drunken sex as easily as the everyday epiphanies of bus rides and back-road drives. This time around, Holland has fattened her sparse folk jazz and malnourished waltzes with a flock of backup players (including songwriter David Dondero, who duets celestially with her on You're Not Satisfied) and crafted the most stunning, spellbinding work of her career. As for her voice, its haunting coo is still enough to call the birds from the trees -- or the ache out of hearts.

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