i wanted you
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


I received Jolie Holland's debut in the mail a little over a year ago. It's called Catalpa, and at that time it was self-released (the album's since been rereleased on Anti). The album packaging was exceedingly simple; the title card a one-sided piece of cardboard with "(C) 2002" written in Sharpie (Jolie's handwriting?). But within moments of slipping it into my CD player, I was arrested, compelled, smitten. Her voice is thick, run through with ribbons of highs and lows, smearing tones. It dips and lilts. Her writing is simple, traditional, but without pretense. In this, as in much else, Jolie Holland recalls the genius of Gillian Welch. Without David Rawlings' guitar-work, Holland's recordings feel simpler, plainer, but not less beautiful. No less sad. It's bluegrass that's only rarely hokey, songs reverent and resigned. Holland's new record, Escondida, is out very soon.

You should listen to these. They're pretty special.

Jolie Holland - "Roll My Blues". Catalpa has a dusty and lofi feel, a woman in a small room with sun filtering through the blinds. Jolie sings quietly, unremarkably, swallowing blame with a nod and a strum. Nothing pushy here, just the small truth, the sincere little blues. "Never have I longed so dearly," she smiles, "My mind sees you arrive so clearly." This is a song that flutters and glimmers and feels like it could blow away.

Jolie Holland - "Do You?". The opening words (the round, long vowel sounds) are sung with such slow, true honesty. (Soul and mind and life and heart.) The track comes slowly to life, like earth warming at dawn, and when the haze of cymbals breaks I can feel the fingers of the sun falling on my face. A long, high whistle - a (wo)man on a mountaintop, staring down. The words tumble out like a Yo La Tengo confessional, but the music is stronger and purer (and obv. more Appalachian), rolling toward the little rosy-lipped surprise at the end. (From Escondida.)

Posted by Sean at April 9, 2004 1:09 AM

I like it. Thanks.

Posted by Indigo at April 9, 2004 3:15 PM

Me too!

Posted by caley at April 9, 2004 3:39 PM

oh, good!

Posted by Sean at April 9, 2004 3:49 PM

Me likey too. I also really like your descriptions of the songs("sun filtering through the blinds"). Keep it up, Sean.

Posted by Shaun at April 9, 2004 5:39 PM

I've been a fan of Catalpa's since her work on Be Good Tanyas' "Blue Horse." Lately, I've been doing a number on my advance copy of her forthcoming "Escondida," and I have to say that I'd be lying if I suspected I'll trip over a better new record this year. Songs of love and remorse haunted by the ghosts of folk-country, blues, and jazz past sung by a woman who, pristine production aside, sounds as if she should have been dead for years. The instrumentation on this record is quite lovely, too. Very, very Waitsian. Y'all should check it out.

Posted by Paul at April 9, 2004 10:53 PM

Recently one of my favorite songs has been Jolie Holland's "Old Fashioned Morphone" - it's incredibly relaxing and laid-back, perfect for the end of the workday. These songs are wonderful too, so I'll probably break down and buy her CD. I imagine I'll be playing it a lot on lazy summer days.

Posted by ladygoat at April 11, 2004 10:06 PM

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about said the gramophone
This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

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Said the Gramophone launched in March 2003, and added songs in November of that year. It was one of the world's first mp3blogs.

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"And I shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and I will never grow so old again."
about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet.
Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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