Premiere: Ali Holder’s Assertive “Bruja” Redefines What It Means to Be a Witchy Woman

Ali Holder
Texas’ Ali Holder emerges as an outspoken women’s rights advocate and a stunning singer/songwriter in her spellbinding song “Bruja,” adapting a Pueblo myth through wondrous lyricism and vivid imagery.
Stream: “Bruja” – Ali Holder




I don’t think women are allowed to get angry or seek revenge without being seen as crazy, emotional, or weak. I think we need to change that. We need to accept our anger so we can work through it and heal.

Her latest set of songs may be based around a myth, but there’s absolutely no faking Ali Holder’s emotion, her passion, or her immeasurable energy. The Texan artist emerges as an outspoken women’s rights advocate and a stunning singer/songwriter in her spellbinding new single “Bruja,” adapting a Pueblo myth through wondrous lyricism and vivid imagery while speaking out for women who died at the hands of the Mexican cartel.

Uncomfortable Truths - Ali Holder

Uncomfortable Truths – Ali Holder

The mountains of Mexico
Stand just a stone’s throw away from here
Looking down this canyon
I can hear the Rio Grande and the Whipporwills
The hearts of 300 women
Cast in plaster names written below
Still among the missing
Families forever living with ghosts
Call out, I call out
To raise the bones from the earth

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Bruja,” the evocative lead single off Ali Holder’s forthcoming album Uncomfortable Truths (out 2020). Born on Texas’ outlaw country and now based in Austin, Ali Holder’s decade-spanning career has seen her emerge as a prominent local artist with a flare for rejecting rules and bending definitions. A self-proclaimed fan of slashes, Holder describes herself as “folk/country/blues/Americana/jazz” and then some – “I don’t think I have to be any one thing,” she shares in her latest artist biography.

Ali Holder

Ali Holder

Not only is Holder’s latest music her most distinctive and unique, but it’s also her most meaningful project to date. Following 2017’s Huntress MoonUncomfortable Truths is described as being “about the parts of lives and bodies that can be a little ragged, a little worn, a little less than what they were expected to be,” per the artist. “The album spans topics including chronic pain, poverty, privilege and women’s rights, among others.”

The latter subjects feature prominently in “Bruja,” an utterly intoxicating introduction to an album we cannot wait to hear in full. Led in by a beautifully effected lead guitar soloing over a wondrous rock progression, the song immediately adopts a Southern feel with psychedelic tonalities. Warm and cavernous, the fullness of the sound invites onlookers to listen deeper as Holder’s hearty voice relays a tale of pain and longing, perseverance, confidence, and hope:

I was a Bruja in my last life
Cursed to wander this dessert
For all of time
I foretold of the coming
Of all the bloodshed and all the crime
I haunt these borderlands
Not quite human
Not quite beyond the veil
I am the smell of Creosote
I am the dust dug underneath your nails
Call out, I call out
To raise the bones from the earth
Call out, I call out
To march on the men who destroyed you

For Holder, “Bruja” – a Spanish word which translates to “witch” in English” – is a resounding streak of light in an overwhelming darkness.

I call out to march on the men who destroyed you,” she sings in the chorus. In short, the song is a means of avenging and remembering those whom the Mexican Cartel have murdered.

“I saw an art installation once where 300 plaster casted hearts were hanging from the ceiling,” Holder tells Atwood Magazine. “It was to represent 300 women who had gone missing via the Mexican Cartel. I always wanted to avenge them. I was very into the La Loba (The Wolf Woman) myth at the time. La Loba collects the bones of dead wolves. Once she has the pieces for a whole wolf, she sings and chants and brings another La Loba to life. I love the idea of women being born upon the bones of the women who came before them. I had her raise the bones of the 300 dead women to march as an army on the men who took their lives.”

Holder continues, “I don’t think women are allowed to get angry or seek revenge without being seen as crazy, emotional, or weak. I think we need to change that. We need to accept our anger so we can work through it and heal. So we can rise up and keep fighting for our rights that are being taken away from us.”

Bruja - Ali Holder

Bruja – Ali Holder

There’s nothing mythical about the unfair treatment of women in society; Holder’s impassioned singing speaks for those who lost their lives, who may no longer use their own voices to fight an ongoing, terrible, and largely unseen battle of gender, power, and place in society. With her dynamic guitar on one side and mesmerizing background vocals on the other, Holder makes a dazzling show of force. Her emotions are tempered, yet we can feel the rage seeping out of the song; “Bruja” is a true spectacle of force meant to awaken our own inner anger – anger over inequality, senseless killing, authorities looking the other way, and anything else you want to throw into the pot.

Stream Ali Holder’s new song exclusively on Atwood Magazine!

I exist now to revenge
Every hand who helped these women
Meet their end
I pick them off one by one
One man for each drop
400 gallons of blood
I help the good ones pass
Cloak them in night
before they cross into Texas
My name is La Loba
I am raising my army of dead
Call out, I call out
To raise the bones from the earth
Call out, I call out
To march on the men who destroyed you

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Stream: “Bruja” – Ali Holder



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Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com