Some albums have a deep sonic spiritual streak that implies they were made in a church, but Holly Golightly’s latest album, Medicine County, flips the concept with an Americana album that isn’t particularly spiritual but was made in a church.
“Well, when I say church, it’s not an elaborate thing by cathedral standards,” Golightly says. “It still had the organ in it, which we used. We got the keys from a neighbor who was caretaking the place — it’s still for sale — and she knows what we do and she said, ‘If you need a bit more space to spread out …’ You can’t really annoy anybody because you’re a long way from everybody else.”
Golightly moved from the UK to the American South two years ago after long tours and a growing sense of rootlessness forced her to seek some permanence; she and partner Dave Drake (aka Lawyer Dave) found a small ramshackle Georgia farm that serves as home and studio. The move was the latest milestone along Golightly’s fascinating career path.
After fronting Billy Childish’s girls-in-a-garage annex group Thee Headcoatees in the early ’90s, she embarked on a solo career, collaborated with The White Stripes and recorded 2003’s Truly She Is None Other with Cincinnati’s Greenhornes. In 2007, she and Drake released their debut as Holly Golightly & the Brokeoffs, cleverly titled You Can’t Buy a Gun When You’re Crying, which charted an Americana/Country/Folk course, followed by 2008’s similarly inclined Dirt Don’t Hurt. Both albums were assembled in the scant days that Golightly and Drake could set aside when there was still an ocean between them. Medicine County represents their first work done while living in the same locale.
“It’s the first time we’ve had enough time to devote to it,” Golightly says. “Dave built a studio last summer and it’s the first time we really got to use it to make something. We could do it a bit more leisurely — the time was spread out between going swimming at friends’ houses, riding horses and going to flea markets — and I think it paid off. The album is more cohesive and makes more sense to me in a lot of ways. It ran three weeks in the end, which is an opus by my standards.”
She and Lawyer Dave are definitely looking forward to their return to the Cincinnati area; they looked at property in Kentucky before closing the Georgia deal.
“I love the look of the city,” Golightly says of Cincinnati. “It’s on a hill and the river's there. It’s got everything that San Francisco’s got except (without) the assholes.”
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