Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Jesse Dee Not On My Mind / In My Heart

Jesse Dee has apparently developed a reputation as a singer and performer in a classic rhythm and blues vein. He impressed Alligator Records enough that they signed him and recently issued his recording On My Mind / In My Heart. The hype of this album is that it conjures Sam Cooke and Otis Redding.

Dee certainly has an attractive voice and can sing and is backed by a solid band with a full horn section. Others have raved about Dee (I refer you to Living Blues and Jazz & Blues Report for samples), but I listened to this and wondered what the fuss is about. Maybe its the eleven originals none of which stand out in my mind. Nothing indicates he is the second coming of a Dan Penn or the late George Jackson as a songwriter. 

Some of Dee’s songs, including the opening title track are too wordy and this in part if reflected by the vocals and the backing sounding busy and cluttered. Also, while certainly pleasant to listen to, much of the playing sounds like a pastiche of classic R&B recordings, but listening to this one feels like one is listening to a band that is a faded xerox of the classic Muscle Shoals or Memphis bands. Perhaps I have been listening too much to James Carr, Deep Soul collections and The Fame Records Story, but this recording strikes me as unexceptional.

I note that Dee is one of the acts coming to the Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival (www.bayblues.org) on Saturday May 18. I will be there in part because of Lucky Peterson’s presence and Peterson's recent Live DVD/CD set I recently reviewed, so I will be there to see Dee as well. I emphasize I don't hate On My Mind / In My Heart. I just am not excited by it. I am curious to see how I react to Dee live

I received a review copy from Alligator.

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