If you’re struggling to remember, Jolie Holland and Samantha Parton are former members of the wonderful Be Good Tanyas, the exact status of whom is currently uncertain. Jolie actually left the band before their debut album was released but she is now reunited with Samantha for Wildflower Blues, their debut album as a duo.
The majority of the ten songs here are written by Jolie and Samantha in partnership or with some outside help but they also bring in some well-chosen covers. They open with Townes Van Zandt’s bitter-sweet ‘You Are Not Needed Now’ and there are the familiar fragile country harmonies that you would expect. After the first verse you realise that things have changed and there is a band making some big sounds behind them. The band is in fact a trio: Stevie Weinstein-Foner on guitar and vocals, multi-instrumentalist Jared Samuel and drummer Justin Veloso.
The second cover is ‘Jocko’s Lament’ by Michael Hurley, famed in the UK as writer of ‘The Werewolf’, and the third is Bob Dylan’s ‘Minstrel Boy’ for which Jolie has written extra lyrics. I’m not sure if Bob would like the new words but I just love hearing Jolie and Samantha sing that tune for longer than the original might allow.
The first of the original songs is the title track which verges on pop music and features Paul Rigby on fuzz guitar. It has a bluesy swing that features throughout the record and it’s followed by ‘Make It Up To Me’ which gets down and dirty and reads like the sub-plot of Dexter where our hero is trying not to let his wife find out that he’s a serial killer. There is some really dirty guitar and Jared’s piano sounding positively angry. Jolie’s song ‘The Last’ continues on a similar theme.
Wildflower Blues is a gorgeous album that I’ve practically had on repeat since I first played it. There is just so much happening here that I defy you not to enjoy it.
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Artists’ website: www.jolieandsamantha.com
‘You Are Not Needed Now’ – live: