7.5

Jolie Holland: The Living and the Dead

Music Reviews Jolie Holland
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Jolie Holland: <em>The Living and the Dead</em>

Holland enjoys herself on fourth album

Jolie Holland writes songs packed like retablos with autobiographical details and Dia de los Muertos figures, but it’s her voice that animates them. She slurs her words and blurs her phrasing, chewing her consonants and creating a distinctively drunken drawl. Holland’s fourth—and perhaps best—album (featuring contributions from collaborator M. Ward and guitarist Marc Ribot) foregoes the smoky speakeasy atmosphere of 2006’s Springtime Can Kill You for a more contemporary roots sound, which provides a more evocative backdrop for her signature vocals. Despite singing such despairing lyrics, she sounds more commanding and confident than ever on “Mexico City” and “Your Big Hands.” The bleak murder ballad “Love Henry” and “Fox In Its Hole” revisit her old noir-jazz vibe, but sound more connected to the here-and-now instead of some vague there-and-then. Holland half sings/ half laughs the closing cover of Guy Lombardo hit “Enjoy Yourself,” sounding like she’s truly taken that advice to heart.

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