Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
Like an old friend whose eccentricities become a cause for concern, San Franciscos 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, Hollands 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.