Jolie Holland – Pint of Blood

January 01, 1970



 “If disappointment
was like a drug / I overdosed again,” Jolie Holland sings in “Wreckage” on her
fifth album, Pint Of Blood. That’s a
credo for much of Holland’s work, but especially for this album, much of which
describes some sort of emotional wreckage or an attempt at recovering from one.
That “Wreckage” is one of the album’s perkiest tunes shows just how dark the
overall tone is: Holland loves the murky side of life.


She’s tagged Neil Young’s Zuma as an inspiration for this one, which is more of a rock text
than the Billie Holiday-blues, Appalachian folk and parlor songs that fed her
early work. Like 2008’s The Living And
The Dead
, Blood leans on
judicious electric guitar solos, most often from Shahzad Ismaily, who
co-produced the album, but also from Grey Gersten and, on one track, Marc
Ribot. The Zuma connection is
strongest musically on “All Those Girls” and “Gold And Yellow,” songs that ride
a slow, weary acoustic guitar groove, although vocally and lyrically the whole
album has a similar late-night-rumination vibe (there’s no “Cortez The Killer”
here, but that’s no problem). That nocturnal vibe suits Holland perfectly: Her
voice slides around notes, elongating vowels, as if she’s murmuring to herself,
as if she’s letting us eavesdrop, and songs like “The Devil’s Sake,” “Tender
Mirror” and a heartrending cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Rex’s Blues,” arranged
for piano and eerie fiddle, are darkly brilliant.


Those Girls,” “The Devil’s Sake,” “Rex’s Blues” STEVE KLINGE 

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