During the fuzzy '90s heyday of indie rock, Michael Holland fronted Jennyanykind, a semipopular Chapel Hill band he founded with his twin brother. They had a major-label record deal and a catalog of songs that zigzagged between psychedelic freak-outs and rootsy twang. After calling it quits in 2003, Holland dug deeper into Americana, playing country blues, Appalachian mountain music, and lots of songs influenced by Bob Dylan. On Simple Truths and Pleasures, he drives straight to the country with a record that loads up on unrequited love songs, tears-in-my-beer tunes, and plenty of old-fashioned narrative ballads.
Most striking is "Ballad of Eric Rudolph" — about the guy who bombed an abortion clinic, a gay nightclub, and Atlanta's Olympic Park in the '90s. For five years, he hid in North Carolina's hills, becoming a modern-day folk legend along the way. Holland neither condemns nor lionizes Rudolph. Rather, he sets him up as a run-of-the-mill paranoid, distrustful of the long arm of the U.S. government. It's a captivating back-to-the-land statement by a singer-songwriter who knows a thing or two about the subject.