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The Sad Side of Spring

Many of Jolie Holland's fatalistic, woozily paced songs come with a body count, but she rarely spares herself: She often sings about doomed lovers, and she ranks topmost among the damned. Roughly as cheerful as its title suggests, Springtime Can Kill You finds Holland falling prey to her own stubbornness, sullenness or drunkenness in song after song.

The album's title track even locates the sad underbelly of a season ordinarily associated with rebirth and renewal. For every blooming rose and swooning lover, she notes, there's a sad wallflower done in by missed opportunities. "You don't have the time for the least hesitation," she sings, commanding, "Get out of your house." In its own way, however, "Springtime Can Kill You" comes as close as Holland gets to writing an inspirational anthem, as she uses herself as a cautionary example ("Springtime can kill you / just like it did poor me") for those who opt to stay indoors.

Holland may be beyond salvation here, but not everyone is doomed to the same fate: "High on the moonshine, bodies entwine / Don't you see it's better this way?" The sentiment may be sad, but it says something for the season that it inspires Holland to find a ray of hope -- for everyone else, anyway.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)