There's nothing more unfortunate than seeing cool lady musicians struggle with obscurity (see: Kathy McCarty, Lucinda Williams), and nothing more inspiring than watching them relish it. Holly Golightly's probably the greatest example we have of the latter category. Enigmatic, reclusive and the subject of many a rock legend--it's rumored that she works as a truck driver, has a thing for horses and always has a drink in hand--Golightly is often pigeonholed as a "rock revivalist," which is an unhelpful and dismissive description.
In reality, she is a pop singer in the truest sense. An idiosyncratic guitarist and a prolific songwriter--she's put out 11 records since 1995--her strength is the same as that of any great pop singer, from Leslie Gore to Joey Ramone: She delivers love songs with devastating smarts. Those love songs range from her own to beat-up versions of Ike Turner ("Your Love is Mine") and Lee Hazlewood ("Sand") standards and Thee Headcoatees' extremely charming "Come Into My Mouth."
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I had to get liquored up before the last time I saw her play; I was sick with anticipation. She played in a vacant storefront to about twice as many people as any fire marshal would tolerate. (The smoky bar has been done.) Live, her brand of punk romanticism is unassuming at first--she's a very plain woman with little stage presence. Walking home afterward, I was struck by how effortlessly the whole show had gone. I am not the kind who gets mushy about pop music, but Holly Golightly hits me in the gut.