Baby Dee, Loto Ball | Hideout | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Baby Dee, Loto Ball Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard

When: Thu., May 5, 9 p.m. 2011

Baby Dee might be famous thanks to her sassy, campy persona, her fascinating backstory (the phrase "transgender street performer" tends to turns heads), and the enthusiastic endorsement of some well-connected friends (Will Oldham, Andrew W.K., David Tibet), but her stunning musicianship proves she deserves to be. Her new album, Regifted Light (Drag City)—recorded in three days at Dee's Cleveland home last winter, produced by Andrew W.K., and played on the Steinway piano he gave her—is almost entirely instrumental. Dee's piano playing takes center stage, and she imbues the whole record with a pastoral, hymnal quality. I can imagine at least two of the vocal songs, "Regifted Light" and "Brother Slug and Sister Snail," rising up to the stained-glass windows of a very openhearted and inventive sort of church. Her delivery is dramatic and clearly stage-conscious, and on several tunes (the title track, "Brother Slug and Sister Snail," "On the Day I Died") it also carries a reverent, spiritual intensity—a consciously earnest formality that's just breathtaking. And when she lets her prankster side out to play on "The Pie Song," it makes the loveliness of her voice almost unsettling—it's as if Vaughan Williams managed to work one of Queen Elizabeth I's favorite songs about farting into a romantic suite. —Monica Kendrick

Price: $12

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