Springtime Can Kill You

Jolie Holland. Anti- Records. Music review by Jon Young.

Like an old friend whose eccentricities become a cause for concern, San Francisco’s Holland can be charming and unnerving at once. Her spine-tingling third album crosses the melodic elegance of Madeleine Peyroux and the wasted grace of Tom Waits (a Holland fan), capturing strange lives in quietly intense vi­g­nettes. Supported by shaggy, old-time grooves featuring pump organs, tubas, and accordions, Holland’s stoned drawl brings a creepy authenticity to what she calls her “sullen songs,” though the material is deceptively varied. “Crush in the Ghetto” brims with wild-eyed joy; “Stubborn Beast” finds her murmuring, “I can see strange glory on the other side,” alluding to the obsessive urges behind these self-absorbed tales. And the stunning “Nothing Left to Do But Dream” offers a modern murder ballad about a “sick and restless” protagonist who confesses, “I took my sister to the river and I came back alone.” Springtime Can Kill You is twisted fun.