Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs – Medicine County

January 01, 1970







If asked who my very favorite
female vocalists are, it would be a short list and easily rattled off without
hesitation: Neko Case, Jenny Lewis, Rachel Cox of Oakley Hall, Sarah Cronin of Drug
and Holly Golightly (Smith.) With their latest release, “Medicine
County”, Holly and her musical partner in crime, Lawyer Dave are back with a
twang and a bang.


This predominately upbeat
collection of twelve songs, including three covers, was recorded in a recently
abandoned and foreclosed-upon church (“recorded at Foreclosure Ministries”)
near her farm in rural Georgia near Athens. In fact, one ingenious highlight is
the church organ used in the funereal “Dearly Departed. ” It wafts in like the
reflective interlude music a church organist would play during a service. With
two full albums and last year’s EP behind them, Medicine County shines as their biggest and brightest
accomplishment. The press release sums it up well when it describes their sound
as “ghostly blues, gut-bucket slide guitar, with a smattering of ol’ time
country. ….just the disc for conjuring up the spirit of weird old
America.”  The delightful cover art was
done by none other than Holly’s mom, Carol Voss, and wholly inspired by Currier and Ives prints and the American
Primitive work of Grandma Moses.


Holly’s wry lyrics for “Eyes In The Back of My Head” recall the
funniest, tongue-in-cheek humor of a lot of country music songs. “There ain’t
no hidin’ from the eyes in the back of my head.” The slow, syrupy blues of
Wreckless Eric Goulden’s “Murder In My Mind”, does the boy-girl call and
response lyrics similar to a Nancy and Lee tune.  In the title tune, “Medicine County”, they
lament, “We’re a hundred miles from nowhere, everybody needs a drink. More
churches here than people… I’ve sometimes got the notion to drink until we’re
blind. Dream of smokin’ something good, Lord knows it’s hard to find.” (Google
Madison – Medicine – County and look at the pictures and you may find it seems like
a pretty nice place to settle, frankly.)


Holly appropriately shifts her vocal styles from smoky to sultry, to appreciatively
a down-home, back-woodsy drawl for the more front-porch style tunes included
here-in like the bluegrass-y “I Can’t Lose”, with its dandy fiddle-sawin’ and
banjo plunkin’. The song that blew me away the most though, was “Escalator.”
When she breezes in for the duet, it recalls those nature films they used to
show in grade school with the time-lapse of tree buds popping open, baby birds
hatching forth and flowers bursting open in Spring. A truly glorious number –
yet glowing superlatives can hardly express what a fine piece of work this
album is overall. I don’t know what they’re drinking down there in the Georgia
boonies, but it seems to be doing pretty well by them! (Now, would somebody
please tell me what the hell a “brokeoff” is?)


Standout Tracks: “Escalator”, “Eyes In The Back of My Head”,
“Don’t Fail Me Now” BARRY ST. VITUS


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