The fiddle she plays on “Mad Tom of Bedlam” sounds like an old metal cereal box, the inside sounding resonantly hollow, like the acoustics you’d find in a cement-floored recital hall. This is enough to make me swoon, but you might say that these are minor details. Wait, let’s start again.
Jolie Holland knows her instruments, and for all the fuss going around about her voice, I think it’s her violin, not her too-much-Texas-sweet-tea phrasings that bring me in. This is particular no more evident than in this live rendition of the Escondida‘s classic number, “Mad Tom of Bedlam”.
Now that I say that, though, I want to take it back. You, dear viewer, should listen close at 3:04, the lyrics here are “Tonight I’ll go murdering/the man in the moon to a powder/His staff I’ll break and his dog I’ll shake/And there’ll howl no demon louder.”
Confused? Perhaps words really can’t describe this below number or any of Holland’s award-winning repertoire. So rather than try to explain it, check out this Short List nominated singer/songwriter out for yourself…