Sometimes I’ll get a hankering to listen to a particular type of album. This album would have lovely melodies, and heart, and the songs would be well written, and I would want to listen to this album over and over again, relishing the sweetness of its sound and finding myself wanting to find out more about the stories behind the songs. It may not be a country album, as I’m partial to pop music and the almost guilty pleasure of a great pop song is always an allure. The perfect combination is, I figure, a pop sensibility combined with something that only Australian country music has been able to give me: what feels like a direct relationship with the singer and songwriter, who are often the same person.
Admittedly, such a hankering is often satisfied by listening to a McClymonts album. Melodies, pop, great songs: all there. So when I received Jackie Dee’s new album Six String Heart and the press release with it said she has a voice like Mollie McClymont, obviously I was at least partially on the hook.
Here’s the thing, though: Jackie Dee doesn’t sound like anyone but herself, and she has a fantastic pop-country voice that embraces melodies and reaches out to connect with listeners. Her songs are heartfelt; it is clear that she feels every word, even if she hasn’t lived it (because it’s only her business to know if she has).
Six String Heartis eleven tracks that in another genre would be called ‘all killer, no filler’. I have no idea if Dee wrote fifty tracks and rejected thirty-nine to get to these eleven, but she has arrived at a great collection of stories brought to life by her voice. The album is dedicated to her brother, who died last year, and track 8 is about him, too. The song is far from maudlin: it is joyous while hinting at the bittersweet paradox at its core. It’s not the only song in which she finds the balance of light and dark while allowing the listener to feel safe within it.
Dee has had high-quality help on this album: Shane Nicholson
lends his vocals to two tracks and plays guitars, banjo, mandolin and dulcimer, and Glen Hannah
is on electric guitars. Matt Fell took the producer’s reins, as he has done with many other great country music releases in recent years. But there is not a single sense of these musicians compensating for something that wasn’t originally there – rather, I’m completely sure that they wanted to be involved in this album because they knew the calibre of artist they were dealing with.
This is an album that will elicit smiles and tears. It is a piece of beautiful perfection. And if, like me, you have a certain hankering, it will satisfy that too.