Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs: Dirt Don’t Hurt

Lo-fi folk, country and blues: the new Richard & Mimi Fariña?

UK lo-fi roots goddess Holly Golightly’s second release with the Brokeoffs (a “group” comprised of her associate Lawyer Dave on bass, vocals, percussion and guitars) is an amalgam of country, blues and folk that sputters and clanks like a well-worn jalopy on a dusty backroad. The opening “Bottom Below” scrapes along on string bass, dobro, banjo plucks and percussive slaps seemingly struck by a string tied to a one-man band’s ankle. Lawyer Dave sings the low end of the duets in a gruff voice that’s balanced by Golightly’s girlish harmonies; imagine Richard & Mimi Fariña squaring off with Tom Waits in a junkyard full of percussive implements. The likeness to the Fariña’s is especially close on the sing-song folk-blues “Burn Your Fun” and the harmonica-led blues-grunge “Gettin’ High for Jesus.” The duet turns to sassy Johnny & June call-and-response with “My 45” and old-timey on the banjo-led “Accuse Me.” The country-blue weeper “Up Off the Floor” is delivered with a catatonic vocal of pain that evidences the results of the lyric’s vindictive kiss-off, while the comeuppance of “Indeed You Do” is pushed along by a tenuous rhythm and peels of slide guitar. The duo’s ballads, including “Slow Road” and “Indeed You Do,” crawl slowly, the former evoking the strutting march-time accents of Cabaret’s “Wilkommen.” The album’s covers include the jump blues “I Wanna Hug Ya, Kiss Ya, Squeeze Ya,” rendered here as a scratchy electric blues, and the traditional mountain tune “Cluck Old Hen” in one of its many lyric variations (all of which seem to threaten the hen for its lack of production), and read as an insomnia-inducing nursery rhyme. The entire album was recorded in a few days between tour stops, resulting in a set that’s finished without being polished. It’s the sort of run-through attributable to principals that have developed a partnership as they’ve deeply internalized their musical influences. The lo-fi aesthetic is a less conspicuous element here than on Golightly’s earlier works with Thee Headcoatees and others, adding a patina of sparseness that suggests history rather than hurry. [©2008 hyperbolium dot com]

Listen to “Bottom Below”
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