Lawyer Dave (left) and Holly Golightly don’t know much about country, but they know what they like.
HOLLY GOLIGHTLY & LAWYER DAVE at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Wednesday (November 12), 8:30 pm. $13, advance $11.50. 416-870-8000.
By her own admission, Holly Golightly isn't overly familiar with country music. But that hasn't kept her from affecting a twang and recording Dirt Don't Hurt (Transdreamer), a rootsy album of hayseed duets with her partner in musical crime, Lawyer Dave.
This frightfully droll dabbling in country territory is just the most recent turn for the lo-fi genre-jumping Brit chanteuse who got her start belting out garage punk stomps in Thee Headcoatees back in 1991, and she's been switching styles with each successive recording since going solo 13 years ago.
"I'm not a purist in any sense of the word," explains Golightly. "I just do what I like. The majority of my influences have not come from the realm of country music. I don't claim to know anything about country music, and I'm not particularly interested in it, but it's a formula I feel I understand.
"There have always been songs on my albums that could've been country tunes - just your basic 12-bar compositions, which is an easy form to follow. It's really only the studio treatment that has made them sound like something else."
Of course, the problem faced by such quick-change artists who try on new musical styles the way their contemporaries change stage wear is that of establishing and building an audience. And that could be one reason why Golightly has never been able to break beyond cult status despite profile-boosting appearances on the White Stripes' Elephant album and the soundtrack of Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers.
However, if fans of Golightly's prior incarnations aren't enamoured of gritty songs of sin and salvation set to the rudimentary plinking of a banjo played by someone who knows not of Earl Scruggs, there's always the next album, which will likely have an entirely different focus. If the number Gettin' High For Jesus is any indication, it may even be a blasphemous gospel concept.
"I think most of the people who've liked my previous work will understand what I'm doing, but of course there may be some faction who don't like it because I'm not using a fuzzbox or whatever. If that's what you want to listen to, fair enough, but my new album won't be where you can hear it.
"An awful lot of the people at shows are the same ones I've seen before, which is partly out of loyalty because they like my songs. And we have been incorporating some of the stuff I've been playing for years - the material has just been adapted to suit the current formation with the just the two of us and no bass."
So far, Golightly has no plans to play any chicken-wire honky-tonks on the current tour to see how her faux country frolic would go over with a crowd of good ol' boys. It could be a riot.
"Years ago, back in my punk rock days, I did some shows from behind a security fence. I don't want to play any place now where people would throw stuff at me. I'd just have to get offstage and throw stuff right back at them, and that wouldn't make for a very good concert."
Holly Golightly discusses her recent relocation from England to the southern US.