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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Slowly But Surely

Posted By on Wed, Oct 27, 2004 at 12:00 AM

Recorded in the traditionalist fold of London’s Toe-Rag Studios and featuring a crack backup band, Holly Golightly’s 13th album sports her usual vintage sashay. Whether it’s the loping Western swing of “Keeping On,” the Seeds-worthy garage rock fever of “In Your Head,” or the blowsy pre-rock swagger of “All Grown Up,” Golightly’s songwriting is always confident, her phrasing careful. She also continues to show impeccable taste in covers, from the Little Willie John side “My Love Is” to a dusky reading of the blues standard “Mother Earth.” As classy as Slowly is, it’s more interpretive than transcendent. Unlike, say, Neko Case’s channeling of Wanda Jackson into something soulful and renewing, Golightly seems to stroll through a stylized diorama of 20th-century music history. She’ll suggest the frosty coo of ’60s chanteuse pop (“The Luckiest Girl”), but not make it new. Still, maybe transcendence is overrated, because as a whip-smart study in craft, Slowly is ace. By concentrating on the details — an organ trill here, extra reverb there — the album could be a collection of criminally unheard oldies. Like gingham or clear beer bottles, its best qualities never go out of style.

Johnny Loftus writes about music for Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

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