Jolie Holland, Pint of Blood

Nick Marino

By Nick Marino

on 06.28.11 in Reviews

Pint Of Blood

Jolie Holland

“Can’t believe you’re treating me like all those girls — all those sweet girls go home to cry,” Holland sings in the opening line of her fifth album, Pint of Blood. The line is meant in context as a lover’s complaint, but it works as a bit of musical autobiography, too. Holland is a musician whose bent, bluesy voice demands a different set of rules from all those other girls. She is Billie Holiday channeled through Joanna Newsom, with a Dust Bowl twang for good measure, an unrepentant oddball whose singular warble often drifts a country mile away from her melodies. She allows a busted guitar solo on “Gold and Yellow,” and a stray fiddle on “June,” but her voice — as always — is the focal point, regardless of musical accompaniment. It charges through finger-snaps on a jaunty tune called “Wreckage,” and then seizes hearts over halting piano during “Rex’s Blues,” which ranks with the best of her material. Diehard fans will be glad to hear her take yet another stab at “Littlest Birds” — this is at least the third time she’s recorded the song, dating back to her early band the Be Good Tanyas, and her solo debut Catalpa. Each version sounds different from the last, a testament to Holland’s restlessness and range.