Dee White

Southern Gentleman

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Dee White calls himself a "Southern gentleman" on his 2019 debut, but because the singer/songwriter leans hard on his Alabama background, his stylized retro-country evokes a past that doesn't necessary belong to the land south of the Mason-Dixon line. Producer Dan Auerbach creates an elegant, hazily lush setting that evokes the soft country-rock emanating from Laurel Canyon at the dawn of the '70s. When combined with White's high, keening voice -- which can glide up to a falsetto reminiscent of Roy Orbison, as it does on "Crazy Man" -- this supple sound can conjure memories of Rick Nelson's Stone Canyon Band, only without much of a twanging snap. All these retro accouterments are the initial focal point on Southern Gentleman, partially because Auerbach executes this amalgam so expertly: it's a pleasure to sink into its textures and details. So enveloping is the very sound of Southern Gentleman that it takes a little while to realize that White has written songs sturdy enough to support this production. Well-versed in the softer side of '70s progressive country, White pens songs of love, heartbreak, and rambling with subtle grace. They're the kind of songs that feel like old favorites upon the first listen, then reveal their idiosyncrasies with repeat revisits -- and the majestic sweep of Auerbach's production invites more than one listen.

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