Every few years, a new ancient voice arrives on the scene to rev up the same ol' authenticity debates and stale Billie Holiday comparisons. Last year, it was Jolie Holland
's turn for both scoffs and well-deserved year-end best-of citations. Holland shares a label (and some vocal inflections) with Tom Waits, and her press clippings include reasonable comparisons to early Lucinda Williams, Margo Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies and a certain Ms. Norah Jones. But with Holland's acoustic guitar picking, lyrics about old-fashioned morphine
and vocals that drawl indefinitely before lurking forever in a listener's mind, her sound is closer to the women Alan Lomax used to record down in the Carolina mountains. Authentic enough, to be sure.