Thursday 27 May 2010

Music Review: Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs – Medicine County

Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs Medicine County cover

Artist: Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs
Album: Medicine County
Label: Transdreamer Records
Release date: 30 March 2010
Genre: Alternative Country / Traditional Country
Rating:  1.5/5

The moment I saw that Holly Golightly had a new album out, I was interested in listening to it.  I first became acquainted with Holly Golightly's style and music when she collaborated with The White Stripes.  Something about her irreverent sense of humor and her country-influenced type of alternative rock appealed to me.  It seemed that this was all confirmed when I heard the first single from the Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs album Medicine County.

"Forget It" starts with a sweeping percussion and organ and introduces Holly's haunting, seductive vocals.  It immediately reminded me of the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds classic "Red Right Hand" and I looked forward to an album of dark, narrative alternative songs with a definite country and Western leaning.

Alternative music has enjoyed a love affair with country and Western music for years.  One just has to listen to Johnny Cash's renditions of the massive Nine Inch Nails hit "Hurt" and the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds track "Mercy Seat" to see how compatible the two genres are.   Mazzy Star, Tarnation, Ryan Adams and Aimee Mann are just some of the artists that have been successful in producing cross-genre music that is often primarily country music but appeals to a wide alternative base.

Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs2

I mention this simply because I am not one of those people adverse to country and Western music just for the sake of it.  In Medicine County, Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs explore the very origins of country and Western music and delve into the numerous subgenres and styles including traditional country, bluegrass and folk. Holly's fascination with the genre is clear and I admire her for putting that passion to music and delivering an absolutely authentic sound.

Once "Forget It" finishes and the bluegrass sounds of "Two Left Feet" began, I found that I enjoyed less and less of the album. In fact, there were only four songs on the album that I didn't dislike. I could appreciate the effort and I knew that the title track "Medicine County" was a fine example of the honky tonk and "Blood on the Saddle" is a faithful rendition of the Tex Ritter traditional country classic but I just couldn't listen to them all the way through.

Apart from "Forget It", "Dearly Departed" is okay and the last two songs on the album "Don't Fail Me Now" and "Jack O'Diamonds" are quite good actually, if not a little repetitive.

I believe this album would appeal to country and Western lovers who have an alternative leaning and can appreciate Holly's sincere attempt to pay homage to a cross-section of country and Western genres. In term of production, song writing and musical performances, this is a fine album of high quality.  However, for music lovers with a primary affiliation to the alternative music genre, this album may prove to be inaccessible and a step too far in the country and Western direction.  Don’t take my word for it though, take a listen to the previews on Amazon and perhaps you’ll be pleasantly surprised.  I’d certainly recommend purchasing "Forget It" and "Don't Fail Me Now".

Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs1

Considering that I could only listen to four songs of the twelve on this album, I give it 1.5 stars out of 5 and that is a generous rounding-up.


Photo credits: Alison Wonderland

Article first published as Music Review: Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs - Medicine County on Blogcritics.


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