Jesse Dee “On My Mind/ In My Heart”
Like fellow Bostonian Eli “Paperboy” Reed and Idaho export John Nemeth, Jesse Dee is resurrecting soul. There’s a Sam Cooke feel to the title cut with a B-3 burbling beneath him and some ‘50s style sax blasting alongside. “No Matter Where I Am” is pure searing soul, Dee soaring into the stratosphere to hook up with a ‘70s vibe.
Dee sounds like an old soul. The arrangements sound like classic ‘70s soul emanating from Stax or Muscle Shoals studios. Dee wrote all of this material, and seems to have encyclopedic knowledge of how to structure a soul song, borrowing from the styles of a diverse array of soul men, getting their essence without impersonating them.
“I Won’t Forget About You” sounds like something Mel and Tim might have been offered, high-pitched soul with a honeyed rasp over a bright, poppy background.
Dee’s on a vocal roller coaster for “The Only Remedy,” hurtling through a fistful of octaves with a Joe Tex-style instrumental backing.
“What’s A Boy Like Me To Do” could be Little Anthony doing a Wilson Pickett impersonation. The wildest cut is “Sweet Tooth,” a reverb drenched, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins presentation with Timo Shanko’s tenor sax screamin’ like a sinner’s first dip into hellfire.
“Boundary Line” soothes things with a coating of honey coated soul and although vocally it doesn’t sound like him, it does sound like one of those testifyin’ soul ballads that Solomon Burke specialized in.
“Stay Strong” is an upbeat anthem in the Little Milton “We Gonna Make It” style.
It’s great to hear a fresh take on classic soul, and with Dee being a gifted writer as well as an outstanding vocalist, perhaps he can help that genre once again be a major force in music instead of a footnote.
By Grant Britt