Some meetings of chance yield the ripest fruit. In 1999, Jolie Holland met Samantha Parton on the street in Vancouver’s bohemian district and struck up a conversation over the handmade boots Parton was wearing. That discussion quickly turned to music, and though neither realized it at the time, the seeds of a career-spanning musical partnership were planted. Within two years, The Be Good Tanyas were officially formed and had released their beloved debut LP, Blue Horse.
Holland grew up in Houston, Texas. In her teens she was part of an itinerant artistic community based around Austin and New Orleans. In the late-’90s, San Francisco was home for a few months before she made her way to Vancouver and co-founded The Be Good Tanyas along with Parton and Trish Klein. After contributing to Blue Horse, Holland returned to the US, and has since released half a dozen critically lauded albums of her own material. Similarly, Parton’s post-high school years were spent traveling with her guitar, drawing strong musical influence from her travels in the southern US, particularly extended stints in Texas and New Orleans. Samantha continued to tour and record with The Be Good Tanyas for over a decade, until two car accidents and other health concerns took her off the road in 2012.
Their new project, Jolie Holland and Samantha Parton, is a page from the big book of North Americana and outsider folk. With a new full-length album in the works – Wildflower Blues, due out in autumn 2017 – Holland and Parton have spent much of the last two years touring North America and Europe, continuing to develop their new original material and performing with a number of Holland’s bandmates as backing musicians.
The dynamic between Holland and Parton feels expansive – both on stage and in the studio. With influences spanning jazz, blues, country, folk, rock and experimental, the pair knit together all of these elements from the great wide history of American song into their own kind of soul music.
Despite this vastness, there is a deep intimacy running in the undercurrent of everything Holland and Parton create together. Their songs are present, emotive and raw, putting words and sound to both the dark and light corners of life. Each song feels like a fully realized moment in time, like an organic thought process led through instruments in real-time.
Holland’s distinctive singing matched with Parton’s more delicate, airy soprano results in textured harmonies of tension and release; each allows the other space to move and maintain their own vocal idiosyncrasies in the context of singing together as a pair. Like the other elements of their work together, it sounds beautiful, but in a way that is challenging and engaging.
It’s been eighteen years since Jolie Holland and Samantha Parton first joined forces. Holland says, “When I left The Be Good Tanyas after only a year and a half, it felt like unfinished business.” With Wildflower Blues, Holland and Parton have turned the page on a new chapter in an ever-evolving creative relationship.
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