Music

ALBUM REVIEW | AMERICANA

Jolie Holland, ‘Wine Dark Sea’

An “acquired taste,” as they say, Jolie Holland is not for everyone, but she’s a real gift to those who believe in her knotty, quixotic take on American roots music. Since her 2003 solo debut, “Catalpa,” Holland has added increasingly jagged edges and brittle textures to her songs rooted in folk, country, jazz, and blues traditions. Holland is hard to pin down, as a songwriter and especially as a singer. Like Anita O’Day without the sense of swing, she garbles her words in a way that turns off the faint of heart. But you’ll never mistake Holland for someone else. That’s especially true on “Wine Dark Sea,” her transfixing new album on Anti- Records on which Holland explores the tension between her mercurial singing and the dissonant melodies she conjures with a band behind her. The scraping, electric cacophony of the opening “On and On” frames the desperation bubbling up in the chorus: “Please be gentle with my heart/ ’Cause I’m in love with you.” This is Holland in full bloom: singular and wild-eyed. (Out Tuesday)

James Reed


ESSENTIAL “On and On”

Jolie Holland plays Brighton Music Hall June 25.

Loading comments...
Real journalists. Real journalism. Subscribe to The Boston Globe today.