Agent: Mike Leahy
“…like a creek-dipping at Birdland.” — TOM WAITS
“What all good music has in common is that it captures and conveys both the nature that is in us and the nature that surrounds us. Anemones and cockles in tidal pools at dusk on unknown but recognizable tidal pools seen with closed or open eyes. When a breeze of soft magic caresses, we care not where it came from or where it goes. Jolie Holland’s music captures and conveys, and it is one of those breezes.” — NICK TOSCHES
Over the span of her career, Jolie Holland has knotted together a century of American song—jazz, blues, soul, rock and roll—into some stew that is impossible to categorize with any conventional critical terminology. This is her burden and her gift, to know all of these American songs of the last ten decades in her head and her heart, and to have to wrestle with their legacy. She dives straight to the pathos of a song the way the very greatest singers, singers like Mavis Staples, or Al Green, or Skip James, or Tom Waits do. Upon first encounter her songs seem challenging, perhaps unsettling at times, but as so many poets and rockers have shown us (from Dante Alighieri to William Blake to Sylvia Plath to Patti Smith to Nick Cave to Mark E. Smith) that’s where the beauty lies. As evident on her first recordings, Holland apparently has no fear of the truth, and there is no emotional core that she cannot reach in song. In fact she thrives on the red hot center of a musical composition, in all its strange and brutal detail. Note how easily the line “I’ve been taken outside and I’ve been brutalized” trips off her tongue in Joe Tex’s “The Love You Save.”
Jolie Holland has a Desperation to tell Now. And she has called on deep, dark forces to get there. It’s always a pleasure to hear a musician come to a new precipice in her output, where great skills and great courage are required to rise to the occasion. Wine Dark Sea is the album of a lifetime, with a lifetime of work in it.