In her live shows and on recordings, Jolie Holland delivers performances of such intimacy that one at first feels like an eavesdropper. As if you’re the ghost in the room while she confides in a close friend or lover, or is simply singing her heart out for her own emotional benefit. Her demeanor is neither hostile nor ingratiating. She simply sings for her own satisfaction, hoping too that you as a listener derive some inspiration or delight. She’s got me. I do.
Having followed her career I’m struck by her determination to follow her own muse. It defines her. Never more so than on the new recording with her band the Grand Chandeliers, Pint of Blood. She’s made records that were poppier (The Living and the Dead), rootsier (Escondida) and more intimate. As one who finds her songs charming, if sometimes shapeless, I’ll confess a fondness for the near-pop of The Living and the Dead. On Pint of Blood, Holland’s tunes sound effortless, but they don’t always stick with you at first listen. But having listened many times to Pint of Blood, and having been caught in her live spell at the Record Bar in Kansas City recently, I will concede that the spell she wields is increasingly seductive with exposure.