Intimate and uplifting, Jolie Holland's debut studio release, Escondida, is a breath of fresh air for fans of great singer-songwriters. Combining blues, folk, jazz and pop in totally inventive ways, Escondida marks the emergence of a unique and important new voice in the music scene.
The opening track, "Sascha" is a perfect distillation of her vision; piedmont blues guitar (her own picking), mixed with brushed jazz drums beneath elastic vocals that hint at classic singers like Billie Holliday. Her tone is pure and sensual.she then breaks into a wordless phrase that sounds like a horn followed by a lone, lyrical trumpet solo. The overall sound is natural and timeless. Each song thereafter is full of gems and surprises, both musical and lyrical.
With Creole roots in New Orleans, Jolie was born and raised in Texas. By the age of six she was writing songs on the toy piano. From the beginning, it seemed as if Jolie was eager to continue something she had started in some other time and place. In her early teenage years Jolie added fiddle and guitar to her set of tools. It soon became clear that the classroom was not the place to grow as an artist. After leaving home, Jolie fell into a set of artists that traveled like a circus without a tent or a destination. They bummed around between Austin and New Orleans, soaking up the flavors of the South. Then, Jolie headed out West and made her way up the coast to Vancouver. She co-founded a folk outfit called the Be Good Tanyas. After contributing to the groups' first album, Blue Horse, Jolie set off to lead her own project in San Francisco.
Never intended for public ears, what was to become her first album, Catalpa was given to a few friends and eventually sold at shows. Quickly taking on a life of its own, this courageous little disc made it around the world and back. When Catalpa was made available for sale viaJolie's website and CDBaby.com, orders came in from almost every state in the union, all over Canada, Europe and even Japan. Paste Magazine said this about Jolie and Catalpa ; ".a songwriting talent of poetic grace.Holland's voice is a remarkably supple instrument; and her phrasing and the way she sidles up to notes is nearly miraculous."
This rare combination of truly beautiful and unique songs combined with such an out of this world delivery makes for quite a striking first impression indeed. But, on top of all that is a magic coating, a glaze of mystery that seems to keep people wondering. Asking questions, such as, where did this come from and when did it get here? The San Francisco Chronicle reacted similarly by choosing Catalpa as one of the 10 best albums of 2003 and adding this about Catalpa "...throughout this remarkable debut, there is also an eerie, haunting feel, sounds from other times and places unified by Holland's ageless voice. She sounds like a little girl and then like an old woman, sometimes both at once."
The core band, consisting of veteran jazz drummer Dave Mihaly; Zen guitarist Brian Miller; and Jolie leading on guitar, fiddle and voice entered the studio in November 2003 to record Jolie's proper debut, Escondida. With so much talk about the magic of Catalpa, some wondered if 'that special sound' would come across on an intentional, studio album. Escondida immediately quells any doubts - from the first note, to the last, the magic is inescapable. Escondida will be in stores the last week of April 2004.