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CD Review

Baby Dee's 'Safe Inside the Day' is far-ranging

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February 1, 2008

There are moments when pianist Baby Dee's new album, "Safe Inside the Day" (Drag City), feels like a long-awaited encore performance of a musical theater classic. That the said show is known only to the singer herself - or that its book features lyrics such as " 'cause you just can't keep a good albino down" or "Father Son and Holy Ghost/ Stole the bacon and burnt the toast" - are entirely beside the point to Baby Dee.

"Safe Inside the Day" is intent on showing its range, bouncing restlessly from the barrelhouse roar of "Teeth Ate the Only Bones That Show" to the elusive tango of "The Dance of Diminishing Possibilities." Dee is blessed with the ability to transform her voice from song to song, the feminine becoming masculine, the heartfelt becoming campy, the tender becoming nearly deranged.

The lyrics, uncanny and obscurely personal, court oddity for its own sake, but the strange beauty of "Safe Inside the Day" will nonetheless compel a rousing ovation.

SAUL AUSTERLITZ

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