Jolie Holland's Haunted Mountain knits a unique narrative that echoes not just through her own record, but also vibrates in harmony with her friend and collaborator Buck Meek’s album of the same name.
Their synchronicity extends beyond the shared album title, it includes several co-written songs, including a collaboration showcased on the mesmerizing title track. In an intriguing twist of fate, both artists independently decided to name their albums Haunted Mountain and include the collaborative title track. Holland expresses her delight in the unexpected convergence, stating, “When he told me he was including our song on his next record, I was extremely pleased at the weirdness - I was going to release a version as well.” The decision to share the album title adds a layer of eccentricity that Holland finds "bizarre and wonderful."
Haunted Mountain covers the listener with a curtain of poignant metaphors and lyrical imagery, delivered in Holland's haunting, smoky timbre. Her words, like spells, stir the soul and cast an unapologetic light on the tragedies of our time. With stoic fearlessness, she confronts issues like disaster capitalism, creeping fascism, colonialism, and patriarchal oppression, exposing the unsettling reality of civilization's vulnerability to the capricious power wielded by sociopathic men capable of unfathomable destruction. Throughout the album, Holland delves into themes of dispossession, alienation, and the insidious nature of "othering." She confronts the avoidance of trauma in society, acknowledges the collective helplessness in the face of geopolitical upheaval, and elevates the sacred connection between humanity and nature.
On the opening track, "2000 Miles," Holland explores the yearning for love, setting the stage for what’s to follow. "Feet On The Ground" introduces a dreamlike atmosphere with organic electronic sounds, momentarily reminiscent of Radiohead or Aphex Twin before Holland's signature whistling takes flight. She duets with Meek (Big Thief) on the anti-colonial hymn, "Highway 72," with its Americana-meets-Nyabinghi rhythm, recounting an autobiographical tale of life on the streets. "Orange Blossoms" offers an exploration of man's disastrous impact on the planet, drawing from her own experiences as a cult survivor who faced homelessness in her late teens. This autobiographical thread adds a layer of universality, connecting with listeners who may not have experienced homelessness but can identify with feelings of dispossession, desperation, and alienation.
With the help of guitarist Adam Brisbin and drummer Justin Veloso, Jolie Holland has made something special with Haunted Mountain, transforming textured layers into a seamless sound collage that captures the magic of each moment in real time via her poetic storytelling and dream-like palette. So dig in and open you mind to the complexities of the human experience.