Jolie Holland in-studio, 10-9-08
Jolie Holland‘s music has always sounded like the place where past and present meet. Her vocals bring to mind the speakeasies and roadhouses of a bygone era and reviews are littered with references, accurate or not, to the likes of Billie Holliday and Patsy Cline. On her fourth and latest full-length, The Living & the Dead, she throws a bit of a wrench into the formula with a little help from M. Ward and guitarist Marc Ribot, among others, as well as the surprising influence of the music of Daniel Johnston. The result is an album of songs whose subjects often feel antique even while the music follows more typically pop structures than we’ve heard from Holland before (though neither is exclusively the case).
We talked to Holland about her crazy dreams (one involving William S. Burroughs inspired “Mexico City”), her famous fans (labelmates Tom Waits and Nick Cave are counted among them), and the presence of the Portland music scene in her music (aside from M. Ward’ s help on the album, her road band features Portlanders Rachel Blumberg, Dave Depper, Sean Flinn, and Jason Leonard). Her song set includes two from the new album, an unreleased number, a starkly different take on an older song that finds her backing herself on a homemade violin, and a gorgeous version of a Jimmie Dale Gimore classic.
Recording engineer: Steven Kray