Emily Jane White
Friday, Feb. 24, 2012
Swedish American Hall
Better than: Every show I've been to in the last 12 months.
Among those who work there, it's common knowledge that the Swedish American Hall is haunted. This is according to violinist Carey Lamprecht, who played there on Friday night with headliner Jolie Holland and opener Emily Jane White. Haunted or not, the Swedish was the best setting for Friday's four-hour Noise Pop show, featuring four performers (White, DRMS, Will Sprott, and Holland) whose differences in style are bound by a deeply personal approach to musical storytelling. Each finds ways to grab ahold of the smallest, rarest bits of emotional experience and craft lasting songs out of these fleeting moments.
Lamprecht told the audience about the hall being haunted apropos of the book she and Holland are collaborating on: a collection of true ghost stories, first-person accounts that Holland has been amassing for seventeen years. This sideline could not be more fitting for Holland, whose work embraces so many of the more spectral and mysterious aspects of American musical history. If you want, you can hear in many of her songs an encyclopedic re-organization of the American musical canon (and any number of sub-canons), echoing with rhythms, instrumentation, and ideas from across the centuries. On Friday, Holland mentioned Townes van Zandt, Boots Riley, Ray Davies, and two Native American performers among her influences; haunted as she is by musicians past and present, major and minor, it's no surprise that a ghost story anthology is in her future.