Springtime Can Kill You
First Appeared in The Music Box, July 2006, Volume 13, #7
Written by John Metzger
Much like her first two endeavors — the demo-turned-debut Catalpa and the more fully formed Escondida — Jolie Holland’s latest outing Springtime Can Kill You is not an easy album to embrace. Draped with an air of melancholy weariness, the collection drifts past in a surreal fashion as her sketchy, subdued arrangements permit flickers of Appalachia to brush gently against a disorienting blend of funereal, New Orleans jazz and dusky, Texas blues. It is, at once, both rustic and modern as gentle wisps of pedal steel, hushed rattles of percussion, and the quiet cry of a trumpet stand in for the crackles and pops of an old 78 as well as the static that inevitably courses through a distant radio signal.
Holland lived briefly in Vancouver where she co-founded the Be Good Tanyas, and in effect, Springtime Can Kill You is another in an increasingly long line of contorted, folk-imbued musings from artists connected to the Pacific Northwest. Be it Neko Case or Jesse Sykes, Mark Lanegan or Po’ Girl, together, they essentially have turned their anguish inward, thereby transforming the rampaging angst of the region’s grunge scene into a solemn, ghostly whisper. Delivered at a lethargic pace and sung with Holland’s quirky warble of a voice, the material on Springtime Can Kill You occasionally slips from rustic sleepiness into claustrophobic oppressiveness. Given time, however, the beautiful, intoxicating darkness that lurks within her heartbreakingly boozy rendition of Riley Pickett’s You’re Not Satisfied as well as the ruminative country-soul of Stubborn Beast, the luminous Crush in the Ghetto, and the heavenly radiance of Mexican Blue oozes to the surface where it forms a soothing salve that hides its danger until just before that final poisoned breath is exhaled. ˝
Springtime Can Kill You is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box