Jolie Holland grew up in Texas, where from a young age she experimented with writing, playing, and singing music. By her teens she had learned piano, guitar, and fiddle, and was performing as a traveling musician. San Francisco was home for a time in the mid-'90s before Holland was on her horse again, ambling to Vancouver and founding the neo-traditionalist folk outfit Be Good Tanyas. She contributed to the Tanyas' Blue Horse LP (Nettwerk, 2001) before moving back to San Francisco. There a series of solo demo recordings started making the rounds. Stark yet filled with imagery, Holland's work was folk in an American, Texas tradition, but accessed the fractured hope and gathered darkness of the country's past in beautiful and affecting new ways. The buzz surrounding the demos grew and grew, with national mags lining up with applause and Tom Waits nominating Holland for the esteemed Shortlist music prize. All of this led to Anti's signing Holland in August 2003; that November, the recordings were officially issued as Catalpa.