Shoot Out the Lights: Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs at IOTA

Just how retro is the strain of handmade country-blues peddled by Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs? During their ramshackle hour-long set at IOTA last night, the guitarist/percussionist/singer Lawyer Dave introduced two different tunes as “a song about domestic abuse,” and in neither case did he follow-up with a Chris Brown joke.

Violence between lovers has always been one of the major themes of this music, of course. No one goes to counseling in the blues! If Golightly — an underground British chanteuse perhaps best known for a guest spot on a White Stripes record despite the dozen-plus solo albums to her credit — ever did, she might never have penned such juicy heartbroke numbers as “My .45” or better still, “You Can’t Buy a Gun When You’re Cryin’.”

Lawyer Dave is the Brokeoffs all by his lonesome, operating a one-man-band rig that had him griping about pain in his legs for much of the set. He may have second billing to the singer — or no billing, really — but his sometimes ghostly, sometimes fiery slide guitar was as key to the duo’s old-timey spell as Golightly’s honeyed lilt. He handled most of the banter, and seemed to call the shots even as the pair bickered over what to play next throughout the show.

“Our setlist was stolen in Philly,” Lawyer Dave explained in a Tom Waits-like rumble, “along with our dignity.”

Speak for yourself, Lawyer Dave. I’d watch what I say about anyone who sounds this good tossing off lyrics like this one, from the slow-burning “Indeed You Do”: Don’t go digging your own grave / I already made you one.

A version of this review appears today on Post Rock.

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