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Jolie Holland

It's not so bad being Jolie Holland right now. Her new label has re-released her homegrown album Catalpa, she just finished an intense recording session for her upcoming full-length and she recently found out Nick Cave is a fan. Take into consideration her hauntingly beautiful voice and striking songwriting skills and her life sounds damn near perfect. But Jolie Holland still gets sick, she still misses her boyfriend who's studying overseas and she still digs Haight Street Thai food like us normal folks.

We caught up over curry and despite her coughs and sniffles I got the low-down on life as a local Americana chanteuse.

Jolie Holland's been singing her way across the country since she left her Texas hometown after high school. After a stint in New Orleans and some time in Vancouver, Holland put her wandering ways aside and has been in San Francisco for the past several years. And boy, are we lucky to have her. Chances are you've seen Holland with her weathered guitar playing solo at local haunts like the Rite Spot or Hemlock. But she keeps busy with a number of side projects as well and even joined her former group, alt-country buzz band Be Good Tanyas at the Great American Music Hall where she broke it down on the fiddle for a full house.

Last year Holland self-released Catalpa, a collection of folky, bluesy gems that has garnered oodles of acclaim. She has a captivating voice, thick and pure, and an engaging southern-style drawl. The lo-fi feel of the album (which was recorded, often on the fly, in various living rooms) made it sound nice and old-timey, the perfect vehicle for Holland's songs.

In August, Holland signed to ANTI-, which, as she excitedly points out, puts her on the same label roster as Tom Waits (who picked Catalpa for his shortlist on www.shortlistofmusic.com). In November, ANTI- re-released Catalpa and Holland's been working her ass off creating her new album, what she likes to refer to as her "official" debut. She holed up for a week at the "fancy" In the Pocket studio tracking 16 songs with renowned engineer Lemon DeGeorge, best known for his work on the Oscar-nominated film Genghis Blues. This gives her something else in common with Tom Waits, who recorded his last two albums at the Forestville studio. Holland promises that while this album is much cleaner than Catalpa, it's feel is the same. From "pretty songs that sound like they're old" to "kinda freaky, spooky, weird" tracks, fans can be assured Holland's haunting element remains intact. The album features a number of guest musicians and some interesting vintage instruments as well including a guitar from 1890 and a fretless banjo from 1867. An upright bass and a mandolin also make appearances.

When asked how being signed to a label has changed her life, Holland thinks for a second before brightening, "Nick Cave kissed me!" she exclaims, laughing infectiously. ANTI-'s president took her to see her labelmate when he played the Warfield and Holland can't help but gush. "He was like Satan and Elvis all rolled into one, he was soooo good!" A backstage meeting garnered a kiss on the cheek from the dark lord of post-punk and a confession of his love for Catalpa. Other than that? "I haven't noticed a change in my life, but I feel more confident," Holland says. "It's nice having that support."