"Springtime" excels with the simple beauty of its arrangements: The waltz-like "Stubborn Beast" is anchored by a swooning lap steel, while "You're Not Satisfied" gets a powerful oomph from a trio credited as the On-Your-Knees Brassband (mellophone, baritone horn and tuba). And the piano weaves in and out, brightening the otherwise doleful "Mehitabel's Blues" and augmenting the heartbreak in "Please Don't."
But Holland's voice far outsells the lushly understated instrumentation. On a cover of Vancouver songwriter C.R. Avery's "Crazy Dreams," she stretches the song's title to 10 mournful syllables without a hint of melodrama or showmanship. The laid-back "Moonshiner" is part-love song, part-lullaby, while Holland's tender singing on the album-closing "Mexican Blue" (dedicated to fellow Be Good Tanyas founder Samantha Parton) intensifies her overtly personal lyrics.
-- Catherine P. Lewis