If anyone in rock & roll these days deserves to be called a chanteuse, it's Holly Golightly. While most vocalists seemingly believe that bludgeoning their listeners with overblown displays of "soul" is the way to go, Golightly sings with a cool slink that communicates passion and fire through glorious understatement, and on her best records she's the closest thing to Peggy Lee or Julie London punk rock has ever spawned. Recorded live at a gig on her 2003 American tour (complete with banter between the star and her audience and frequent shouts of encouragement to drummer Bruce Brand), Down Gina's at 3 captures Holly in appropriately low-key form; while guitarist Eric Stein (ex-Greenhornes) can and does rock, for the most part he has the good sense to lay back and conjure a spare, bluesy backdrop for Holly to embroider with her voice, and while one might wish that Holly was a bit higher in the mix on these tapes (which appear to be straight-to-two-track from the audience), hearing her voice play peekaboo with the band suits both the material and the performer just fine. In the tradition of a great jazz singer, here Holly is singing with the band, not over them, and the casual but heartfelt tone of this performance works like a charm. And the choice of material is fine indeed, with Golightly taking "Sally Go Round the Roses" and "This Strange Effect" and making them her own, while her own tunes (such as "Wherever You Are" and "Walk a Mile") are every bit as striking. While Ko and the Knockouts join Holly on-stage for a ragged but right encore, Down Gina's at 3 is truly at its best when Golightly and her combo are winding their way through something slow and quiet; her genius is being able to say so much with so little, and this recording proves that sort of magic is hardly limited to the recording studio.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming