Baby Dee – Live at Vicar St

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Support for Will Oldham at Sundays gig was provided by the enigmatic and unexpectedly wonderful Baby Dee. Antony Hegarty with a sense of humour, Baby Dee begins with the delicately beautiful ‘Look at Me’, on piano with Cello accompaniment. As the set progresses, it opens into a rich and full bodied four-piece cabaret, as Dee flits from piano to harp.

As a transsexual Baby Dee is ludicrous; cracking with oafish masculinity, like John Lithgow in the World According to Garp. As an artist she excels, weaving burlesque fairy tales that leave Vicar Street breathless – literally the venue, exhibiting an appreciation of the show far greater than that of the goateed office milksop audience, who blithy gab throughout.

Bren compares Baby Dee’s arrangements to Tom Waits’ Rain Dog LP. Dee shares too with Waits a melodramatic inconstant vocal quality, a shifting, improvisational performing style that keeps her band visibly nervous. Dee’s voice fuses the melodic unpredictability and throat catching tenderness of Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart with the tortured expressive sweetness of folk nymph Joanna Newsome. At the same time, her irreverent nuttiness belies a tight vaudevillian professionalism, reminiscent of oldball gypsy cabaret triumvirate ‘Tiger Lillies’.

Finishing off with the outrageous and captivating ‘Big Titty Bee Girl’, featuring the unforgettable line ‘You just can’t keep a good albino down’, Baby Dee delivers deliciously rakish musical theatricality, undercut with adorable self deprecation and gallant elegance.

Baby Dee‘s fifth LP, the biographical ‘Safe Inside the Day‘ (produced incidentally by Will Oldham, and featuring a host of musoratti from Max Moston to Matt Sweeney), is out now on Drag City.

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