Jolie Holland


By Erika Berg

What musical artist can claim her album – not even intended for public release – would be nominated for the prestigious Shortlist Music Prize for underrated albums? An artist who skipped college, starred in a Canadian hip-hop band, made it big in New Orleans and whose vocals are often compared to Billie Holiday’s, this musical chameleon is none other than Jolie Holland.

Holland was born and raised in Houston, Texas, but her accent remains true to a Southern California girl, befitting of her residence there since 1996. Holland, a self-taught musician, plays fiddle, ukulele, guitar and piano. This musical prodigy learned her first instrument, a miniature piano, and wrote her first song at the age of six. She boasts being a driven poet from age seven, and her parents recall that she would write as if she were in a trance.

Once mastering the art of the guitar at 14, she started performing two years later. The influences of poets Dylan Thomas and William Blake are apparent in Holland’s lucid songs. Her musical style is familiar to the music of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" She skillfully combines blues, folk, jazz and pop into lyrics she compares to a home-cooked meal.

To date, she has released two albums, Catalpa and Escondida.

Catalpa was Holland’s first album, and was originally not going to be released. This is apparent, due to areas where she will randomly clear her throat and miss a note and also noticeable with the questionable production quality. But all this lends itself to be viewed as heart-warming and endearing not just as a sloppy recording.

Escondida has been described as "a meatier affair." Holland exhibits more polished singing and a fuller sound from a backing band with jazz, blues and even gospel influences. None of this is to say that it’s slick or over-produced. That is simply not her style. Holland says many of the songs were unrehearsed and recorded in one take.

You can hear this earthy, legend in the making musician this Sunday 9 p.m. at Mick’s Music & Bar on 50th and Maple Streets. Tickets can be purchased at to or at the door.