Release Date: Apr 26, 2011
Record label: Transdreamer Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
It’s not uncommon when listening to Holly Golightly to have a little déjà vu. Sometimes you wonder if you’re listening to B-sides from scratched-up 78s you found in a trunk in your grandpa’s basement. Sometimes you wonder if you’re listening to tracks off old Brokeoffs records. I can’t say if they’ve been rummaging in basement trunks, but I do know that I spent a long time making sure I wasn’t being duped by new words put to old melodies — and even now, I’m still not sure.
After establishing herself as the leading chanteuse on the British garage punk scene through her work with Thee Headcoatees and on a number of fine solo albums, Holly Golightly's music has evolved from a distinctive blend of rock, blues, and supper club jazz into a fractured variation on traditional country music with her combo Holly Golightly & the Brokeoffs, a collaboration between Golightly and Texas-born multi-instrumentalist Lawyer Dave. Golightly's vocal and songwriting style, which seemed graceful on her early solo efforts, became more than a bit clumsy on her initial Brokeoffs recordings, with the country accents sounding more than a bit clichéd and hackneyed, especially from someone who showed such intuitive intelligence as she absorbed blues and jazz influences. But Golightly is clearly growing more comfortable with her hillbilly affectations, and 2011's No Help Coming finds her sounding stronger and more confident as she offers her own take on old-school country and blues sounds.
Country music has an inherently American feel to it: it is the music of the heartland, the music of the average working citizen, the music of the salt of the earth. Like so many genres, it thrives on the idea of authenticity, that the songwriters really understand the values of their listeners. The difficulty with country songs is - as pop songs can too easily become saccharine drips - that they too easily devolve into comical lists of grievances.
Tonya Baker Gospel routinely transcends its 1980s clichés: audience-tested vocal strength and trust in the power of crescendo trumps synthified slickness and outdated rhythmic feeling. On “The Live Encounter” (Kingdom), Tonya Baker, a singer in her 40s from Dayton, Ohio, whose profile has grown slowly in the gospel business, performs before a hometown crowd. Her virtuosic performance, jumping between far-apart notes with a precise, hollering voice and speaking to the audience in Dianne Reeves-like melodic improvisations during the album’s three “reprise” tracks, can be astonishing.