Jolie Holland & Samantha Parton – Wildflower Blues
Cinquefoil Records – 15 September 2017
Founding members of dusty Americana trio The Be Good Tanyas, Jolie Holland and Samantha Parton hadn’t worked with one another in years when Holland phoned Parton to ask if she fancied playing together again.
Recruiting Stevie Weinstein-Foner (guitar), Jared Samuel, (piano, bass, guitar), and Justin Veloso (drums), armed with a collection of original material, both new and dusted down, they set up a studio base in Oregon and got to work.
It’s actually a cover that opens the self-released album, a fine version of Townes Van Zandt’s You Are Not Needed Now that swiftly welcomes back the duo’s harmonies. The first of their self-penned numbers comes with the title track, a funky little blues-tinted number sung by Parton with Paul Rigby stopping by to add some narcotic electric fuzz guitar that reminds me of that swampy, druggy vibe on Three Dog Night’s 1970 cover of Mama Told Me Not To Come.
There are two numbers written by just Holland, The Last with its quietly pulsing percussion and twangsome guitar break conjuring shades of spirituals veined with hints of jazz, and the closing Gooseberry Rag, a jaunty honky-tonk piano-led instrumental that winds its way to a fade that gives Holland’s violin a 30s-styled vocoder effect. Then, co-written with Felix Hatfield, the breathily sung retro-fashioned Biding My Time drifts along like a lazy river with a baritone guitar and Holland whistling.
There are also two other covers, a close harmony crooning lullaby reading of Michael Hurley’s Jocko’s Lament and, with an unaccompanied intro, a drunken march rhythm account of Dylan’s Minstrel Boy, extended her to five and a half minutes with Holland’s addition of verses about the poets William Blake and Steven Jesse Bernstein who she cites as huge influences on her worldview.
An old-school mood permeates the shared compositions, Make It Up To Me, co-penned with Samuel, is a slow Southern soulful groove and Little Black Bear (Blue Rooms Version) a dreamy lyric about cabin-in-the-woods domestic bliss with rippling drums and tinkling piano. The remaining track, a song of heart’s devotions laced with judgment day imagery, Johnny Said To May again opens on Holland’s unaccompanied vocals before breaking out into harmonies underpinned by low-key meditative electric guitars, muted drums and cymbal shimmers.
A very welcome reunion and hopefully just the beginning of an ongoing partnership.
Jolie Holland & Samantha Parton – UK & Ireland Tour
OCT 3 TUE – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
OCT 5 THU – Whelans, Dublin
OCT 6 FRI – Deaf Institute, Manchester
OCT 7 SAT – CCA, Glasgow
OCT 8 SUN – Sage Gateshead, Gateshead
OCT 10 TUE – Union Chapel, London
OCT 12 THU – Komedia, Brighton
OCT 13 FRI – The Musician, Leicester
OCT 14 SAT – Hartlepool Folk Festival, Hartlepool
OCT 15 SUN – Junction 2, Cambridge
More details https://jolieandsamantha.com