Baby Dee

Safe Inside the Day

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AllMusic Review by

Baby Dee inhabits a world all her own, full of unexpected musical flourishes, both vocal and instrumental. The compositions here display an amazing range that incorporates the entire history of Western music from classical to pop. "Christmas Jig for a Three-Legged Cat" and "Flowers on the Tracks," two instrumental pieces, effortlessly flow together and bring to mind a horizontal Baroque fugue in the style of Bach morphing into a late-night Chopin etude drenched with the dark tones of cello and violin. "The Earlie King" is based on a Scandinavian folk song translated into English by persons unknown. An erlking is a dark spirit who enchants people, usually children, into committing self-destructive acts that seem like fun until the last fatal moment. Dee's music for her telling of this tale is ominous and serpentine, equal parts side shop stomp, smoky cabaret tango, and dissolute pop. Her voice rises and falls, shifting register and tone, shifting from a child's ingratiating whisper to the snickering of a cruel adult and again to the detached dramatic pitch of a master storyteller. As the child is led astray the music becomes louder and more sinister, before slowly diminishing to a hushed, frightening whisper. It's an unsettling performance to say the least. The monsters in "The Dance of Diminishing Possibilities" are more mundane -- bullies, violent parents, and one's own inner demons. Here the music suggests a Broadway musical, with Dee's vocals swooping up and down the scale laughing, crooning, and delivering asides with a wink. The title track is a stately ballad celebrating the healing powers of music and love that shows Dee flexing her considerable emotional and vocal range. Artists with a unique vision and the chops to pull it off are few and far between. Needless to say, Baby Dee is one of them, a singer with a singular style and a writer with a convoluted, somewhat puzzling vision that's nonetheless compelling from the first note.

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