Saturday, May 14, 2011

Deetroit

This review on the online calendar of Cliff Bell's (http://www.cliffbells.com/events.php), where Dee appeared on Friday night, is worth reposting. The author is Kurt B. Reighley.

"It takes nerve for a grown woman to bill herself as “Baby” and expect to be taken seriously—unless you’re Baby Dee. If anyone’s earned a moniker like this, it is she. In her storied career, the Cleveland, OH, songwriter has worked circuses and sideshows. Yes, her cackling laugh and wild eyes can unnerve, but she doesn’t seem the sort to lock her older sister in an upstairs room and serve rats for supper. She’s too good-natured for that.

As curious as she is—there aren’t many transgendered harpists who love a good cigar—Baby Dee doesn’t peddle “outsider” music. And even though she’s releasing records on Drag City these days, she still runs in the same circles as Current 93, Little Annie, and Marc Almond. Her Art-with-a-capitol-A speaks of a commitment to discipline and stylistic choices far removed from traditional indie rock.

With its references to German lieder (particularly Schubert’s “Der Erlk├Ânig”), Baby Dee’s 2008 breakthrough Safe Inside the Day flirted with classical music. Regifted Light embraces it further. Eight of the 12 selections are instrumentals, arranged for small ensemble: piano, cello, a few winds and brass, glockenspiel and other percussion. Producer Andrew WK contributes pump organ. The instrumentation may evoke programmatic favorites like “Peter and the Wolf,” but the execution—particularly in the lively mid-section of standout “Yapapipi”—rings closer to Stravinsky’s theater piece “L’Histoire du Soldat.” As for the vocal works, it isn’t difficult to imagine some earnest young mezzo-soprano warbling “On The Day I Died” or the title song in a recital hall. But even a singer with superior technique couldn’t top Dee’s performance of “The Pie Song,” which brings surprising depth and range of feeling to a seemingly frivolous little ditty. And that is the magic of Baby Dee: she illuminates her music—however you define it—with a mix of childlike exuberance and hard-won experience few others, in any discipline, can match." -Kurt B. Reighley

No comments: