jolie holland – alley flowers

From her debut album, Catalpa (2003). It’s my favourite album of hers, I think – gorgeously hypnotic, and impossible to place in space and time. It’s like she’s channelling the voice of a ghost out of early 20th century America’s Deep South… The words from her milk-white throat weave an occult journey, harking back even further – the lolloping, liquid rhythm of this song could be straight out of West Africa.

Quote from
“If you didn’t know what it was, you’d swear it was recorded in the field 70 years ago. The outright primitive audio quality, acoustic instruments, the little mistakes and coughs left in… it’s a diamond in the rough, left uncut because there’s so much beauty in the imperfections.

“Then you notice the opening track’s [“Alley Flowers”] muffled frame-drum percussion is playing a “cabalistic” 12/8 against the guitar and vocal’s 4/4, the lyrical fantistical concreteness reminiscent of Syd Barrett or Hank Williams, the fluid soprano that sounds utterly self-taught, and you know it’s not an ordinary folk album at all.

“This is very, very different music from almost anything you’re likely to hear, especially in this day of cheap semi-pro equipment and easy software editing. But it’s truly miraculous.”

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