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Rhythm & Views

Baby Dee

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Rediscovered, in a sense, for the indie-rock scene by Antony and the Johnsons and Drag City all-stars Bonny "Prince" Billy and Matt Sweeney (who both produced and played on Safe Inside the Day), Baby Dee is actually quite the musical veteran: She's gone from being the musical director of a Catholic church in the Bronx to being the bandleader for the Bindlestiff Family Circus, with a few other sideshows in between. Writes Dee herself, "I was good at the sacred, and I was good at the profane, and I could never get the hang of anything in between."

Safe Inside the Day shows Dee getting the hang of the in-between. Dee's piano and theatrical vocals combine into heartfelt songs that move with circus-like, allegorical strangeness. "The Only Bones That Show" has Dee singing, "Teeth are the only bones that show," in chorus with Bonnie "Prince" Billy and Lia Kessel, so that the image becomes haunting and then celebratory. "Fresh Out of Candles" turns into jazz about the hypocrisy of faith. "The Earlie King" has the wonderful lines, "Life is bitter and death is sweet / all the bacon that a boy can eat," and on "Big Titty Bee Girl (From Dino Town)," Dee reminds us that "you just can't keep a good albino down."

Safe Inside the Day's strongest artistic achievement is that it does blur the lines between sacred and profane: She makes the profane sacred, and the sacred a little bit profane.

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