Published May 20, 2014Jolie Holland's got a voice that can make you quiver — a determined warble that hints at deep reservoirs of pain and longing. Her legit Southern drawl (she's from Texas) sometimes covers obscures the words (at least for this Canadian listener), but that doesn't stop her from taking us across rich and varied emotional territories.
On her new record, Wine Dark Sea, her captivating pipes again aim right between the ears. "I lost my sweet lover," she chants softly then violently on "Dark Days," guitar noise raging behind her. "Route 30" is a heavy, sexy romp; it's a treat just to hear her pronounce "Chicago." "Saint Dymphna" settles into a lovely little waltz, Holland wavering in and out of the steps, asking, almost pleading, "Do you mean to break my heart?" By the time we get to the soul-infused closer "Waiting for the Sun," it feels like we've been all over.
Holland's previous records were notable for her willingness to stretch jazz, blues and folk conventions over a wider palette. On Wine Dark Sea, her avant-garde tendencies are as prominent as ever; old-timey numbers are placed beside darker, more impressionistic meditations. She's continuing to take chances, to go out on limbs, and it's an adventure worth following. (Anti)