Holly Golightly / Holly Golightly & the Brokeoffs

Long Distance

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It's almost never a good sign when artists start re-recording their old material; it usually suggests either they've run out of ideas or they're in need of a fast buck earned from songs their fans already love. It's hard to imagine either scenario motivating Holly Golightly, who has been producing music at an impressive pace since the 1990s and doesn't have any hits per se to exploit, but nevertheless, she's chosen to recycle ten songs from her earlier albums on 2012's Long Distance. Golightly's best and best-known work found her following a musical path where garage punk, ‘60s pop, smooth blues, and vocal jazz somehow run parallel, but since 2007, she's been working with multi-instrumentalist Lawyer Dave in a rough-hewn country-influenced combo called the Brokeoffs, and on Long Distance she recasts some of her old songs in her new style, adding a layer of grit and twang where she used to play chanteuse (albeit a street smart one with few pretensions). As for which versions you're likely to prefer, that's mostly a matter of taste; Golightly has grown comfortable enough with her new style that she sounds strong and at ease with these performances, and she's been wise enough to choose tunes well suited to this rootsy format. But there wasn't anything faulty in her earlier recordings, and the very best that can be said of this material is that Golightly isn't especially better or worse here than in the original interpretations, just different, which in and of itself doesn't give great reason to be interested. And while Golightly's vocals are consistently strong, Lawyer Dave's accompaniment is somewhat uneven, and his bag of musical tricks seems to be running low by the time this disc draws to a close. There's nothing at all wrong with artists reinventing themselves, but where Golightly was once a one of a kind performer, with the Brokeoffs she's chosen a style she shares with a number of other performers, and though there's no arguing the strength of her vocals on Long Distance, comparing these takes with the originals casts greater light on what she's lost rather than what she's gained in her stylistic transition.

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