Music News

Jolie Holland

When many people think of folk music, they envision acoustic-guitar-wielding mopes who pick at their fractured relationships like apes searching for ticks. In truth, the style is as big as the planet, and if Jolie Holland hasn't explored every square inch of this creative territory to date, give her time. She's personally covered a lot of territory during her career -- although born a Texan, she's been part of music scenes in San Francisco and Vancouver -- and her compositions are equally wide-ranging. Catalpa, her 2003 debut, and Escondida, which followed the next year, were impressive, but they've been surpassed by her latest disc, Springtime Can Kill You, which is musically dense (jazz and country are just two of the approaches represented) and lyrically timeless. Indeed, Holland tunes such as "Crush in the Ghetto," about a romance that makes the narrator feel "like a queen on this sunny city bus," are effortlessly poetic, yet so concrete that some listeners may feel like eavesdroppers. If there were more folk artists like Holland, the genre would have a much more interesting reputation.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts