Release Date: Mar 14, 2011
Record label: Drag City
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Experimental Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Baby Dee can speak. Heck, she can do a lot more than that. She has a rich, full operatic voice that resonates with vivid colors and deep emotions. She also plays the piano in an ornate classical style that suggests, unlike snails, she leads an exuberant, intellectual existence. Baby Dee performs a ….
Falling somewhere between Antony & the Johnsons and Thomas Tallis, Regifted Light retreats from the genre-hopping, Baroque pop of 2008’s Safe Inside the Day, employing a pastoral, almost hymnal demeanor that trades out the bawdy, brothel jams for more classically minded fare. Titles such as “Coughing Up Cat Hair,” “Brother Slug and Sister Snail,” and “Cowboys with Cowboy Hat Hair” may suggest otherwise, but Baby Dee sounds more settled here than she has in the past, perhaps due in part to the gorgeous Steinway D delivered to her home by producer/collaborator Andrew W. K.
Baby Dee is what you might call a late bloomer. When she released her first LP, Little Window, she was already in her late forties, and her biography read like a Tom Waits song. According to a story she told NPR, she fell in love with the harp at age four after discovering the one inside an upright piano during a neighborhood piano-smashing party. Later, she often played harp in Central Park while wearing a bear costume.
The liminal figure — the boundary-trangressing identity outlaw — is sometimes spurned, but often reverenced as an intermediary, a sha(wo)man, a figure whose traumatic lack of belonging allows them to form a bridge to sacred and transcendent realms while at the same time retaining the character of the taboo. Commenting on Jean-Paul Sartre’s book-length essay Saint Genet — the eponymous subject is a figure who perhaps more than any other created an overturned personal universe of queered morality in which the abjected outsider becomes a hammered and imprisoned saint, a Lady of the Flowers — Susan Sontag describes Sartre’s writing as “having a quality that is clotted and ghostly. ” We might say the same of the music of Baby Dee.