Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Baby Dee "A Book Of Songs For Anne Marie" (Drag City)
Although it's hard to call Baby Dee anything but an original, there are two modes she works in that fall squarely into the tradition of gender bending cabaret-style performance history. Few others can write more enjoyable bawdy, weird little comic ditties, marrying raunch and wry cleverness. But her bread and butter are the fragile, tragic songs that many cabaret/drag performers only use as a coda, or as subtext. In concert I've seen Dee ask the audience if they want her to pick up a squeezebox and sing something silly after a bunch of serious stuff -- and they usually answer yes. But on her new album she never asks that question, and we get a serving of comic relief-free music, with ethereal harp, spare piano, and a voice that utilizes odd inflection, long silences, and some kind of alchemy where resonant baritone and falsetto seem to bleed together like the colors on a child's marker drawing dropped in a rain puddle. While I would be the first person to yell out for Dee to get goofy in concert, the delicate songs here are chilling -- all of them simultaneously frail and robust. And though the tone is even and airy, the songs are incredibly distinct, memorable and moving. Of course, if her next album is all ukulele drinking songs, I won't complain, but for now this is pretty dreamy. Or, at least, dreamlike.
Posted by Roctober Productions at 10:21 AM