Essential New Music: Jolie Holland And Samantha Parton’s “Wildflower Blues”

Jolie Holland’s eclectic solo career has largely overshadowed the fact that she was a founder of one-time folk sensation the Be Good Tanyas. Fellow BGT original Samantha Parton contributed to Holland’s 2008 album The Living And The Dead, then took a medical leave from the Be Good Tanyas after car accidents in 2012 and 2013 and a host of other health issues. Last year, Holland called Parton out of the blue, and their long-dormant spark was rekindled, resulting in the gorgeous and diverse Wildflower Blues, their first duo collaboration. Eschewing genre constraints in favor of broad exploration, Holland and Parton touch on heartrending R&B (“Make It Up To Me”), smoldering jazz (“Johnny Said To May”), atmospheric folk (“Little Black Bear”), evocative folk/rock (Townes Van Zandt’s “You Are Not Needed Now”), ethereal folk gospel (Dylan’s “Minstrel Boy”) and slinky country blues (the title track). The combination of Holland’s after-hours chanteuse rasp and Parton’s Lucinda Williams quiver enhances every style they assay and is perfectly framed by their atmospheric arrangements and passionate execution. Hopefully, Wildflower Blues is the first in a string for the reunited pair.

Brian Baker