On My Mind/In My Heart
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Blue-eyed soul singer/songwriter Jesse Dee comes busting out of Boston with fresh, exuberant, hook-laden songs inspired by old school R&B. Jesse Dee's self-released debut from 2008, 'Bittersweet Batch', drew praise from The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, Rockdelux (Spain), Rock n Reel (UK), BBC Radio 2 Paul Jones, Jools Holland BBC TV Two, and The New York Daily News, which said, "I am blown away by what's coming out of my speakers.. remarkable.. there isn't a bad song to be found.. upbeat and soulful." Dee also won the 2010 Boston Phoenix Music Poll Award for Best R&B Act. 'On My Mind / In My Heart' reveals an artist brimming with infectious melodies and engaging slice-of-life lyrics. From the catchy title track to the bubbling closer, "Stay Strong," the eleven original songs here have an energy and honesty reminiscent of 1970s-era Van Morrison. It's positive, buoyant contemporary soul music powered by Dee's unique, effortless vocal phrasing.
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Some of these songs have been in his arsenal for a few years - I remember him doing "Sweet Tooth" live a few years ago and I love that song. Some of these songs are a bit bouncy, ("I Won't Forget About You", "On My Mind/In My Heart", "No Matter Where I Am" and "From The Start", a duet with Rachel Price) complete with really great horn sections, and some are a little edgier - "Fussin' And Fightin'". Some are more mellow - "Boundary Line" could have been sung by Percy Sledge. But it's obvious by the way that Jesse Dee wrings pure emotion out of every line, he means what he says.
To sum it up, Jesse Dee is not emulating these R&B singers of the past - though I'm sure he loves their music. These are new, original songs, done the way that only Jesse Dee can do them.
This IS Jesse Dee.
There is nary an unconvincing sixties-style soul/r&b song here. Among the most impressive in my mind is the deep Southern soul ballad creation "Boundary Line," which places Jesse squarely in Percy Sledge/Otis Redding territory. It comes right on the heels of the driving soul-rocker "Sweet Tooth," which is a blast of startling originality that somehow seems so well-worn at the same time. The powerfully and sincerely delivered "No Matter Where I Am" situates us in Tyrone Davis country circa 1969. "Fussin' and Fightin'" is five minutes of sheer brilliance, both lyrically and musically, with a stellar horn arrangement throughout. "I Won't Forget About You" updates Joe Tex's lyrical cleverness (while adding contemporary references to the Internet) and sweet love testifying. "From the Start" is a delightful duet with Rachael Price of Lake Street Drive that features appealing flourishes of early '60s pop, while the ballad "What's a Boy Like Me to Do?" recalls those years as well, conjuring up early Aaron Neville. I've checked it out, but I don't think I'll ever be totally convinced that the upbeat closer "Stay Strong" did not appear on some
early Van Morrison LP!
No sophomore jinx here! This is an exceptional album that will have me waiting for more from this artist.
My eight year old instantly fell in love with this tune; which prompted me to buy the whole album, and it's one I don't have to hide as a grown-up guilty pleasure...even though it feels like one! Constantly on our road trip playlists.
He in turn shared it with his entire class, and soon they were tapping their feet along with, and singing. Parents called me up to find out where to find his music, and I gladly share, as it's one artist I'm not afraid to say, "Blame me for that!"
My only regret is not being able to give it more than five stars.