Potential fans beware: This disc will cause you to raise an
eyebrow, undoubtedly more than once.

That said,Safe Inside
is a very neat twist on the piano singer-songwriter clich?. Trying to pinpoint
Baby Dee?s sound by genre is difficult, as her influences seem to jump from
Billy Joel toSarah McLachlan
to Tori Amos to? polka? Certainly, her sound can be called singer-songwriter,
but the term does not absolutely define what Dee does with her voice. This, of
course, simply adds that much more to her appeal as an artist with original
talent.

Safe Inside plays as
if Baby Dee wanted to say to the listener, ?I dare you to come see me play this
live.? Songs on the album, including ?Fresh Out of Candles,? sound like Dee did
three shots of Jack and then told her producers (Matt Sweeney and Bonnie
?Prince? Billy) to hit ?record.? Either that, or Dee has a great many voices in
her head clamoring to get out. The album has a level of spontaneity that has
not been seen in many years, and it is quite refreshing.

The album?s allure is not so much its lyrics and music ? which
do keep you guessing, and perhaps even scratching your head ? but instead it is
Dee?s voice, which constantly migrates from Vegas show tune (?The Earlie King?)
to lounge (?The Only Bones That Show?) to Bob Dylan talk-singing (?The Dance Of
Diminishing Possiblities?). Sometimes Dee combines all these styles and more in
a single song. This is perhaps best displayed in the title track, which opens
the record and is the longest song in this set. The song is six minutes of
little more than Baby Dee, her piano and some sparse orchestration in the
background. ?Safe Inside? opens with the rather thoughtful lyric, ?As songs
that go forgotten/ Are found, remembered, loved and sung again/ The father of
all kindness/ The lover of souls/ Will come to find us.?

Another reason to love this record is the guests. The
aforementioned Matt Sweeney (of Zwan and Chavez fame) guests on seven of the 11
songs here. His guitar adds flourishes here and there that really bring out
underlayers of texture to Dee?s already multifaceted compositions.

Also of note is Andrew W.K., who guests on eight songs,
playing either bass or drums. His minimalist approach to drumming on the track
?A Compass of the Light? highlights the jump between Dee and her piano and the
full band. In short, the song shows a microcosm of the greatness that is this
oddball record. Furthermore, Andrew?s bass on ?The Only Bones? gurgles and
belches like an upset stomach on what is easily the best song here. It also
contains what will be one of the best lines of 2008 thus far: ?Sometimes you?ve
just got to wait/ Cold years of hooks and bait.?

It is a damn shame that this disc will not have support of
popular media outside of blogs, becauseSafe Inside truly deserves to go platinum. Oh well. This only
means her superb music can be closer to her fans.

 

4.5 out of 5