On this laid-back live outing, Holly Golightly sounds a little like a caffeinated Kendra Smith (Opal, Rainy Day). She eschews psych-rock in favor of folk, blues, and low-key R&B, but her insouciant delivery evokes a similar sort of casual, romantic world weariness -- not unlike the iconic character so enchantingly portrayed by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. The performances are loose and appealing, with spare instrumental backing spiked by frequent blasts of harmonica. The country-tinged original "If I Should Ever Leave" features the welcome addition of slide guitar and violin. There are plenty of whoops and hollers during the more rocking numbers -- from the audience or from the band; it's hard to tell -- but they rarely overwhelm or distract from the music. Up the Empire may not be the best place to start with Ms. Golightly's oeuvre, but it isn't a bad place to end up -- especially if you'd like to re-create the experience of an intimate, neon-lit juke joint where all the kids meet to tap their toes, snap their fingers, and clap their hands to the slinky beat.
Up the Empire Review
by Kathleen C. Fennessy