Perpetual Change — “A Book Of Songs For Anne Marie” by Baby Dee

| Jul 30, 2012
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CD Review

Originally, this review was going to be part of the earlier review of Baby Dee’s live album Baby Dee Goes Down To Amsterdam which was posted earlier this month. However, due to length, it was decided to present it separately.

While it might be considered to be a bit of “overkill” to feature this artist so often, I would rather suggest that Baby Dee is a true treasure of a musician, and someone whose work deserves a wider audience.

This particular project A Book Of Songs For Anne Marie was released in 2010 and is produced by Maxim Moston, who also play violin. (Readers of our Transvocalizers companion column will recognize that name from his work with Justin Vivian Bond.) Besides Dee, other musicians include Keith Bonner, flute; C.J. Camerieri, trumpet, French horn; John Contreras, cello; Alexandra Knoll, oboe, English horn; and Rob Moose, mandolin.

The project opens with an instrumental overture, which is classical in style and expertly played. The next two cuts Loves Small Song and the title cut A Book Of Songs For Anne Marie are serene pieces that feature Dee’s harp playing. Both are short songs, but very beautiful in their presentation. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of Swiss harpist Andreas Vollenweider, which makes me a sucker for excellent harp playing. I have definitely found that in listening to Baby Dee’s skill on this very awkward instrument.

Lilacs is one of the better production moments on this project. Once again, a classical influence is evident. The ensemble playing that Dee gets out of her session players is excellent.

What follows Unheard Of Hope is the most somber moment you’ll hear on this project. With just voice and piano chords, it’s almost depressing. The last verse of this tune is almost a summation of lost hope:

The cutters come
And a tree must fall
With a great forgiving rush of wind
And say “Here. Take this. It’s for you.
Mind now, don’t lose it.”

Dee’s past as a tree trimmer is obviously never far below the surface.

Black But Comely, And Anne Marie Does Love To Sing, Endless Night, and Set Me As A Seal all follow in the laid back frame of mind this project maintains.

Another one of the better production moments comes next with As Morning Holds A Star. Once again, the ensemble playing is tight, and in this case with yet another laid back piece, the musicians achieve a sense of dynamics that you’d not expect at first, especially in this kind of song.

Dee makes good use of her musicians again in the short instrumental An Early Spring. While it’s yet another somewhat somber piece, it’s also almost Renaissance in sound and overall structure.

Dee closes out the project with Morning Fire. While this particular song is another laid back, almost brooding piece, it makes the listener wonder if there is actually an underlying theme throughout the entire album. Perhaps the theme could be the hope of finding real love, and the resurrection of a new day. Then again, maybe I’m dead wrong. Maybe this is all very personal music for Baby Dee which she’s just felt lead to share for whatever reason.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that while Dee’s music is not everyone’s taste, it’s truly sad that she doesn’t have wider exposure. In a world full of the entitlement mentality of American Idolatry, full of mind numbing rap, over repetitive techno, and rock bands who can’t play their instruments worth a damn, it’s a real pleasure to listen to a project such as A Book Of Songs For Anne Marie that practically oozes masterful musicianship and thought provoking lyrics. This is the kind of album that would be a pleasure to listen to on one of those winter days when all you want to do is stay inside and drink hot coco. (But hey, it’s also a great listen when it’s hot out.)

In my other reviews of Baby Dee’s music, I’ve always mentioned that her voice is definitely an acquired taste. It’s not pretty. But then again, where is it written that a story-teller/philosopher needs to be pretty? It’s the message that matters, and what’s more important — the truth or the vessel in which it’s contained?

Author’s Note: For more information on Baby Dee and her music, please check out her website. Also on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. Some of her albums can be found on



Earlier this month, this column also made mention of east coast musician Georgie Jessup’s upcoming new album Philosopher Dogs. She’s in the final recording stages, and has provided me with downloads of a few of her working song demos. We gave brief, encapsulated reviews of a few of these last time, and now she’s sent some more. Since I don’t want to give away the entire album before it comes out, I’m only going to mention two more of her songs this time.

Georgie is a very accomplished musician and song writer who has the ability to expertly function in more than one genre’ of music and do it without sounding like she’s only testing the waters. A good example of this is Statesville Blues. This is a tune about a trip down Highway 61 back in 2010. It’s co-written with Dirk Hamilton, who is an excellent songwriter with respected work dating back to the late ‘70s. It’s really good blues-rock, with excellent guitar and bass playing. Georgie plays organ on this particular tune.

This ability to function with different styles of music definitely becomes apparent in the song Alsace Daughter. According to Georgie “This one was written about my journey last year to Soultzback les Bains in the Alsace region of France. This was my grandmother’s ancestor’s home town of Reosch.” The song incorporates traditional American bluegrass with a European feel. It’s a very interesting combination of instruments and a unique overall idea.


Marina and the Diamonds Electra Heart

This is a very interesting project by singer/songwriter Marina Diamond that runs the gamut from retro punk —  Bubblegum Bitch, to dance — Primadonna, Power of Control, Radioactive, to light rock — Valley Of The Dolls, Hypocrates, to even kinda-sorta ballads — Lies, Starring Role and Teen Idle.

Not only does the music offer surprises, but so does Marina’s voice. She’s capable of going from a tough girl punk rocker sound to an operatic quality with ease. Most of the time, she reminds me of Kate Bush, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

Stand out tracks on Electra Heart are: Homewrecker which is not exactly rap, more like spoken word, but nonetheless a very well done track. The State Of Dreaming is one of the better production moments on the album, kind of moderate rock, as is How To Be A Heartbreaker which is up tempo light rock, alternating somewhat between a rock groove and a dance groove. Very interesting piece of music. The album closes with Fear And Loathing which is very hard to even catagorize, but is one of the better production moments.

The overall focus seems to examine different female roles, some positive, some negative, but all provocative when presented by Marina Diamond.

Different producers and musicians are used on each tune, so you’ll have to check out the CD insert for proper credit. Marina has a hand in writing or co-writing each tune on the album, which explains the overall female role thread. For more information, check out her website.

And for full-on dance remix tracks now available, check out Doxi Jones Die For You which contains the original version plus 9 remixes. ( And, check out the smashmode remix of Olly Murs Heart Skips A Beat.

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Pam Degroff

About the Author ()

Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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