Baby Dee has a history as
long as your tattooed arm and more queerly dramatic than a Sondheim musical.
The Cleveland native was a church organist, a
circus act, an avant-garde harpist, a go-go dancer, a tricycle rider, a performer
and bar keep of Manhattan’s famed Pyramid Club,
a contributor to Antony
and the Johnsons’ catalog and, once-upon-a-time, a man.
The panicky confessional cabaret of 2008’s Safe Inside the Day, her Drag
debut, was rich and jittery – an autobiographical picture of a street scene she
recalled with tears and cool hysteria. The new Book of Songs for Anne Marie (also Drag
City), though, takes its time and has, at its heart, the
tales of Johann Sebastian Bach and the
tiny book he wrote for his wife Anna Magdelena as well as Rembrandt’s golden paintings
of his sweetheart. In a voice resembling the mannered wizened sing-speak of
Mabel Mercer’s, Dee allows love’s humblest pleasures to trickle through eleven
of the sweetest steadiest songs with but a softly prancing chamber-classical
arrangement of harp, piano and fleeting few wandering strings and French horns
to announce Dee’s delights.
Standout Tracks: “Lilacs,” “Black
But Comely,” “Set Me as a Seal” A.D. AMOROSI