Since leaving her native England eight years ago to settle in rural Madison, Georgia, with Texas-bred bandmate Lawyer Dave, Holly Golightly and her band the Brokeoffs have been releasing albums annually without fail. Although she’s retained the scrappy, raw garage-rock vibe of the music she made in the UK, Golightly’s Brokeoffs work has embraced American roots, often toggling between country and blues from song to song, although never with any regard to stylistic purity. A couple of weeks ago the duo dropped its latest missive Coulda Shoulda Woulda (Transdreamer), as appealing and sprawling as anything they’ve yet released.
The title track features a simple old-school rock ‘n’ roll lick that’s driven into the ground with irresistible mania, while “Karate” is the pair’s belated contribution to the early 60s dance-song tradition, instructing listeners to “Shoot your right leg out and bring it back again / Kick your left leg out and let your knee bend.” “Jackhammer” is a moody, raggedy waltz and “Marijuana, the Devil’s Flower” is a banjo-driven cover of an old “viper” song that warns of the dangers of reefer. Golightly even brings a kind of cabaret-flavored drama to “Apartment 34,” a bemused series of observations on modern white-trash behavior:
They have a thing for old Camaros / That ain’t running anymore /And if you’re wondering what that smell is / That’d be apartment 34 / Daddy rarely wears a t-shirt / Except for metal bands he likes / Sometimes you’ll see him on the highway/ Riding a Little Mermaid bike
“Jump in the River,” which you can check out below, isn’t much more than a rewrite of Leadbelly’s “Goodnight Irene.” Golightly and the Brokeoffs play Township on Thursday evening.
Coulda Shoulda Woulda arrives on the heels of Slowtown, Now! (Damaged Goods), Golightly’s first recording with her British working band since 2004. I can’t help but admit that I’m still partial to this side of the singer’s output, and she falls right back into her old groove by mixing up R&B, music hall, girl group, and quasi-jazz balladry, among other ingredients. Her excellent band brings a loose, swing feel lacking in the more stripped-down Brokeoffs, and the guitar solos never disappoint. As good as the originals are, I’m sharing the record’s sole cover, a fuzz-driven take on “Fool Fool Fool (Look in the Mirror),” an overlooked gem by Chicago soul great Barbara Acklin.
Ursula Oppens & Bruce Brubaker, Meredith Monk: Piano Songs (ECM)
Martin & Eliza Carthy, The Moral of the Elephant (Topic)
Simone Dinnerstein, Bach: Inventions & Sinfonias (Sony Classical)
Charlie Christian, Electric (Uptown)
Art Farmer Quintet, The Time and the Place (Columbia/Sony Music, Japan)