Medicine County

Holly Golightly / Holly Golightly & the Brokeoffs

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Medicine County Review

by Mark Deming

Holly Golightly is one of the best, most distinctive female vocalists to emerge from the British neo-garage scene (a sound best defined by her friend and sometime collaborator Billy Childish), but while she can sing rock, blues, and slinky jazz with equal confidence, she's not quite as good with country-influenced material, or at least that's the conclusion that presents itself after playing Medicine County, her third album with renegade roots rockers the Brokeoffs. Golightly's always-reliable voice isn't a problem on this album, but the arrangements tend to lead her into a caricatured delivery that suggests she's playacting at being a hillbilly, which doesn't do much for her or the songs, and some of the material is simply beneath her (even if she helped write most of it), especially "Escalator" (in which some clueless doofus is confounded by the titular invention), and the title tune. Golightly fares better on a few bluesy cuts, and so does her band -- the gritty guitar work on "Two Left Feet" lends the tune a welcome air of menace that Golightly plays off of with easy skill, and a cover of the folk standard "Jack of Diamonds" is similarly dark, moody, and effective. But for every moment where this album hits its target, there's another where it falls flat, and it's the inconsistency that makes Medicine County such a disappointment -- there are too many good moments, and Golightly is too talented a singer to dismiss this, but at the same time, this album just doesn't live up to her high standards, and she's done too much work far better than this for any fans to not feel a bit letdown by this release.

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