Jolie Holland & The Grand Chandeliers – Pint of Blood (Anti-)

Texas-born Holland is no stranger to New Zealand, having spent some quality time here a few years ago working on her songwriting and collaborating with Auckland singer-songwriter Steve Abel along the way.

Jolie’s sound has always had that dusty, ancient feel of folk blues from the 1920s and 30s. On All The Girls, the opening track on this, her fifth album, she seems to have moved up to the 1970s, channelling the muse of Neil Young, while sounding not unlike Lucinda Williams. The stinging, distorted guitar solo from Greg Gersten seals the deal…on the following track he’s credited with “Tumbling Dice” guitar. Indeed Neil Young and Keith Richards are both acknowledged in the credits.

But longtime fans need not panic, Jolie Holland still retains that haunted dustbowl sound throughout most of Pint Of Blood. Along with Gersten, she is accompanied by multi-instrumentalist and co-producer Shahzad Ismaily (under the name The Grand Chandeliers) with guitarist Marc Ribot stopping in for a guest appearance on The Devil’s Sake.

The production is spare, atmospheric and just a bit creaky.

The songs are all Holland originals, save one. Jolie’s lyric writing seems to have taken a leap forward. She comes up with some great lines… “My phone is broken and my friends are gone, can I stay here til dawn” sets the tone for Remember, while, “I’m gonna give the drummer his due, after I’ve had a few” emphasizes the blurry late-night vibe of Gold And Yellow. And on Wreckage, she begins, “If disappointment was a drug, I overdosed again”.

The one cover is a version of Townes Van Zandt’s Rex’s Blues that closes out the album. It’s a beautiful version coloured with Holland’s own ghostly piano and aching violin.

Five albums into her solo career and Jolie Holland is still moving forward while making music that has its roots in the past.

Marty Duda

Click here to listen to The Devil’s Sake from Pint of Blood