Jollie Holland’s album ‘Escondida’ first captivated me with its imagery and atmospheric vocal. Here’s what happened when I saw her live with Samantha Parton:
Jolie Holland sees two pigeons fighting over a dead leaf and figures ‘well, that’s autumn in Brighton’. With quirky observations like that, her and co-writing partner Samantha Parton showed they could really spin a good narrative. This must have been just what the doctor ordered as Samantha recovered from a serious car accident and the two, who are the founding members of ‘The Be Good Tanyas’ started writing together again.
Together with their bouncy band, Jared Samuel on bass, Justin Veloso, drums and Stevie Weinstein on lead guitar they provided some great blended textures. They were reminiscent of the band Big Brother and the Holding Company, especially during the bluesy ‘Make it Up To Me’ from the new album ‘Wildflower Blues’. ‘Vampire Blues’ off the album was inspired by John Lee Hooker, Bob Dylan and anger. For an angry song, it sure was mellow and Stevie gave some inspiring solos on his Stratocaster.
Jolie Holland has a distinctive powerful yet delicate vocal which the band were sympathetic to. Although the quality of her voice could be heard through the mic, the lyrics could not be made out clearly, which was a shame. She also has an impressive whistle. She told an anecdote about offering to take the whistling champion down, which could be believed. As well as old American songs like Oh Susanna, they also played a reworking of Bob Dylan’s Minstrel Boy where they blended a beautiful three part harmony.