Album: Wine Dark Sea

Artist: Jolie Holland

Label: Anti-

Release Date: May 20, 2014

Jolie Holland 5-20


A onetime member of the alt-folk outfit, the Be Good Tanyas, Jolie Holland has always made it a point to defy easy categorization. So while Wine Dark Sea offers some insights, it adds enough ambiguity to keep listeners at arm’s length. Boasting the swagger and sway of a sultry chanteuse, Holland amps up the attitude, and though many of these songs tend to ramble and meander, her smoking sensuality consistently comes to the fore.

That’s especially true on tracks like “On and On,” “The Love You Save” and the exceedingly emotive “Saint Dymphna.” So too, she vamps like a tramp on “Palm Wine Drunkard,” woozily warbles on “Waiting for the Sun,” and opts for a breezy, blustery swagger on “Route 30,” some sturdy roadhouse blues that spotlights the essence of her southern sensibilities. Yet while Holland’s seems best suited to soulful twilight interludes, she’s a somewhat elusive chanteuse. “Dark Days” and “I Thought It Was the Moon” are off-kilter, discordant and full of disconnect, far from the hummable variety.

Ultimately, Wine Dark Sea is all about the mystique, making it nothing less than a fascinating ethereal excursion

DOWNLOAD: “Route 30,” “On and On,” “Saint Dymphna”

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