The black and white portraits of Holly Golightly packaged in her latest album, Truly She is None Other, remind me of pictures of my mom circa 1969. Considering the musical allusions that Golightly works with, this makes aesthetic sense. Truly She is None Other is charming: Golightly’s understated vocals are full of girl-group sass, and she and her band can play sweet as well as sinister.
Golightly has been busy since she released her first solo album, The Good Things, in 1995, releasing roughly an album or more a year. Before she recorded solo, she played with Thee Headcoatees, and did a guest vocal spot on the White Stripes’ Elephant (Jack White penned the worshipful liner notes in Truly).
Though “garage rock” is a category Golightly is often placed in, Truly, recorded with members of the Greenhornes, is distinctly glossier sounding than some of her earlier recordings. But because Golightly makes her performance sound so easy, the production never comes off as overdone. In contrast to, say, Liz Phair’s latest album — a case study in what it sounds like when you’re trying too hard — Golightly’s is remarkably straightforward, and she’s able to move forward musically while still maintaining a singular voice.
On Truly, Golightly begins with tough talking: “Try bein’ me if you think you can,” she sings on “Walk a Mile,” a jaunty track on which Golightly showcases her knack for being delicately threatening. “It’s All Me” and “You Have Yet to Win” are both bright and just about perfectly catchy. Breezy songs (“All Around the Houses”) are nicely offset by more plaintive ones (“One Neck,” “Sent”), and it’s remarkable how comfortably covers of blues classic “Black Night” and Kinks obscurities “Time Will Tell” and “Tell Me Now So I Know” rest among Golightly’s original material. To be sure, this isn’t retro novelty stuff: Golightly is just adept at working a style and putting it at her service.