Holly Golightly might have been the best part of The White Stripes’ highly overrated Elephant. She was most definitely the best part of Rocket From the Crypt’s disappointing RFTC album, aside from John Reis’ moustache. And I’d even say that she’s the best Headcoatee, but I’ve never actually heard them, so I couldn’t objectively say a whole lot on that front. But you’re starting to see where I’m going with this — Holly Golightly is one smokin’ dame. She’s got a sultry voice, keen songwriting sensibility and a knack for playing old time classic rock `n’ roll.
Seven albums into her career, Slowly but Surely shows Golightly at the top of her game. Forget the guest appearances mentioned above — when she’s on her own is when she does the most damage. Slowly but Surely ain’t exactly rock `n’ roll. It ain’t exactly blues. And it ain’t exactly rockabilly. But it’s good. Really good. And the fact that Holly steers clear from any hyphenated subgenres makes the album that much more charming and likeable. Slowly but Surely is 100% bullshit free.
Rather than kick our asses right of the bat, Slowly but Surely begins with “On the Fire,” a slow torch song that would do Neko Case proud. “The Luckiest Girl” takes it up a notch, upping the rock ante with a faster beat and a healthy amount of sitar. But Golightly’s cover of “My Love Is” returns the album to a sexier mood, leaving Holly to croon over little more than bass and finger-snapping. Some more straightforward rockabilly numbers follow in “Keeping On,” “Always and Forever” and “Dear John,” establishing a consistent, steady stream of good time riffs and choruses.
Side B takes a turn for the rockin’ with “In Your Head,” a furious, organ-driven track that sees guitarist Ed Deegan playing some fiery surf-guitar solos. The title track is aptly named, as it’s a waltz that burns slow, but does so with soul and intrigue. And yet, just when you thought you’ve heard the best, along comes the playful rock of “All Grown Up,” which sounds like the crossroads of Ray Davies and Carl Perkins. The jazzy “Mother Earth” is a perfect ending to Slowly, as Holly sings a traditional 12-bar blues verse, wrapping up her many moods in a simple, but impressive ballad.
Holly Golightly is one British bird that can show up all the American blokes at their own game. She’s got class, style and chops, to boot. Anyone who enjoys old school rock `n’ roll and the occasional blues ballad should go out and get this album immediately. Jack White should only be so lucky to sound as good as this.
Neko Case – Blacklisted
April March – Chrominance Decoder
Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood – Nancy and Lee
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.