Jackie Dee – Six String Heart (Album Review)
As a family therapist and singer-songwriter, Jackie Dee is one busy woman. However, when it comes to music she is not afraid to shy away from tough topics such as domestic violence and mental illness, as evidenced in her third album, Six String Heart.
Though she has been the recipient of many awards and accolades for some time now, it wasn’t until I was asked to review this latest release that Dee’s music featured on my radar. While her debut EP, Tide (2010) earned her high praise from contemporaries in the regional country music arena, she really made a splash in 2013 with her second record, Doors & Windows, when two of the songs earned her a place in the Top 30 of the APRA Professional Development Awards and a Music Oz Awards nomination.
Armed with this knowledge, I was eager to see what this obviously talented musician had to offer in Six String Heart, which was officially released at this year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival.
With a strong focus on storytelling and lyricism – reflective of Dee’s comment that this album is a “collection of songs to symbolise a monumentally challenging time for me and my family” – one would be forgiven for expecting the album to feature more traditional-sounding songs, telling stereotypical tales of the downtrodden in life.
As evidenced by album opener and current single, Contemplating Life, this is not always Dee’s approach. While the songs may feature poignant lyrics with an underlying thread of heartbreak, the album has an almost rock/pop-like edge, a freshness that one can easily imagine being played on mainstream radio, alongside the likes of Taylor Swift or Keith Urban.
That said, the ballads are just as important, if not more so, than the more upbeat songs. Take Shipwrecks, for instance, a beautiful duet featuring Shane Nicholson. Her Free Will tackles domestic violence against women, with a poignancy and timeliness that cannot be denied. Both songs are perfect for showcasing the beauty of Dee’s unique voice and her talent for crafting a great song.
Nicholson returns to feature on the title track, and while there is no ignoring how well these two complement each other, you can’t go past the heart wrenching tale told in Zeppelin’s Playing – which was written about Dee’s final moments with her brother, who recently passed away after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Slightly more pared back than the previous ballads that have featured on the record so far, it’s tenderness and simplicity is enough to tear at even the hardest of heartstrings.
There’s a minor change of pace for the last three songs, if only in terms of a musical sense. It makes for a nice balance of light and dark. Special mention must go to the bluesy intro of Your Girl (another song that is sure to become a favourite) before Summer Wind closes what is, overall, a diverse and vibrant record from a very talented singer-songwriter.
Wholeheartedly, I have no hesitation in recommending Six String Heart to not only country music fans, but music lovers everywhere.
AMNPLIFY – DB
Album review: Six String Heart by Jackie Dee
Doors & Windows
The performing and song writing Jackie Dee has been undertaking for at least the past decade has culminated in this contemporary album produced by Matt Fell. The songs Jackie has written for these albums are obviously penned by a strong and independent young woman. Yes there are the love-gone-wrong songs like ‘Fools Fall Hard’ (which she sings exquisitely) and songs about self-assurance like ‘Game Over’, but there are a few surprises like ‘Precious One’ which is about the pride in raising a child. My pick of the 10 tunes Jackie has written is ‘In My Own Skin’, mainly because it is so different. Jackie? Well sometimes she is a bit Rock Chick and sometimes a bit Country Belle, but no matter how we categorise her this album shines a light on a charming and welcome new talent.
Country Update Magazine Aug 2013
Jackie’s second album with Matt Fell producing opens windows into her soul in a heartfelt way that leaves little to wonder about when it comes to a life lived. Heartbreak features big in Fools Fall Hard and Trampoline, she fights back in Game Over, while female support is evident in Friend. Family figures large in Precious One and the influence of Jackie’s small community in the Illawarra can be discerned in tell-tale ways. There’s a mix of tenderness and hard-earned truth in the 10 self-penned songs, with a marked improvement in Jackie’s song writing over her first offerings and as she says in In my own skin she is ‘comfortable in my own skin’. Jackie’s vocal presentation also shows a new confidence that makes this a fine example of contemporary country music. There is something special in the album’s overall sound that comes from the closeness of singer and producer working on something they both believed in and those augers well for a long career.
Country Music Capital News Sep 2013
Saturday, April 13
Country music often tells yarns of life on the land, so Jackie Dee reckons describing her music as simply country isn't really accurate.
"I call it coastal country," says the Helensburgh singer-songwriter.
"I'm inspired by the water, the ocean. As an artist I think it's really important to showcase my environment."
Dee had her first gig with a band at the Engadine Hotel as a 14-year-old, having grown up listening to Johnny Cash, Glenn Campbell and Credence Clearwater.
Thirty years on and she has just released her second studio album, Doors & Windows.
Starting as a keyboard player and singer in a high school band, Dee went on to perform in other bands and duos throughout the Illawarra, mostly singing covers.
It wasn't until a visit to Mexico with her husband that Dee started seriously strumming on the $50 guitar she bought there.
"I think I had the time to sit down and work out the chords," she says, laughing.
Before that "I was too stubborn, plus I'm left-handed, so people found it too difficult to teach a left-hander."
Dee says that after having children, who are now aged 15 and 17, her creativity went into overdrive.
"I had this growing collection of songs and scrapbooks," she says.
"Then I realised I had enough original material to put out an EP."
Dee's first album, Tide, was released in 2010 and included the songs A Few Wrong Turns and Tide, which received radio airplay and coverage on CMC. The next year, Dee was nominated as a finalist in the Australian Independent Artist Development People's Choice Award.
Since then, Dee has supported artists including Rick Price, Ray Beadle, Catherine Britt, Dragon and The Flood.
These days, Dee juggles work as a family relationship counsellor with weekly rehearsals with her band.
Dee tells of how she had to get to the worst place in her life before she climbed back to now be feeling at her best.
"It was a really tough time emotionally, so a lot of the songs on the album are about climbing back from a hard place," she says of the year she separated from her husband.
The couple have happily been back together for four years now and Dee says she is feeling her most confident.
"The songs [on Doors & Windows] are about dealing with adversity - to look through another window and to find new opportunities," she says.
"And as they say, one door closes, another opens."
The album was produced by Matt Fell and, like her previous two film clips, Dee has chosen to feature local areas and teens from Helensburgh and Stanwell Park.
Both of Dee's albums have been self-funded and for Doors & Windows she used a strategy growing with independent artists where they get family and friends to pre-order the album.
Naming Rick Price as one of her idols, Dee says she would love to collaborate with some Nashville musos for future projects.
"I've been really humbled by even the small amount of success I've had," she says.
The ups and downs of relationships are highlighted in Jackie Dee’s five track EP suitably titled Tide.
Jackie’s warm tones are perfect for the dreamy journey she takes the listener on. In the opening track A Few Wrong Turns sheacknowledges that despite making some bad decisions along the way eventually everything will become clear.
However, just as you find your way back the realisation ‘he’ only thinks about himself in All About You (Track 2) has you doubting the relationship.
It’s now that she’s able to acknowledge that she trusts herself and her decisions, appearing empowered, until she accepts that it is What It Is (Track 3) makes her happy and content confirming her decision not to give up.
The title track will convince you to believe what comes your way and you’ll find yourself breathing in and breathing out as you yourself float with the Tide knowing everything will be all right.
Just when you feel it’s all ok – it’s all over.
Time to move on because of a love no longer.
Time to find your way alone again once more for the Long Walk.
Not surprising the rightly titled album was produced, engineered and mixed at Matt Fell’s LoveHz Studio with additional production and engineering by drummer Josh Schuberth and mastering at King Willy Sound by William Bowden. Multi tasking was producer himself on bass, acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, percussion, programming and backing vocals and Bill Risby on the Wurlitzer.
The cover photography by Sean Maguire (already-yesterday.com) is a sigh in itself, capturing a relaxed and contented writer on the beach. With her hair pulled up by Gardner Hair Design and her make-up perfectly applied by Monique Drew, Jackie, wearing a strapless dress, sits with her toes touching the rippling waters of the Tide.
Tide hints at the romance of life and you may even feel at peace after you listen. Most enjoyable!
Country Music Capital News
‘Precious One’ the second radio single to be lifted from Jackie Dee’s 2013 album “Doors & Windows” is a song written with the tenderness of a mother’s heart. Celebrating motherhood, this track was written for Jackie’s two teenage children and speaks of the unconditional bond between a parent and a child. “Becoming a mother has been my greatest achievement to date and I wanted to write a song that was just for them, kind of a keepsake that they will have forever”, says Jackie.
Produced by award winning Matt Fell the track features instrumentation from both Sydney and Nashville musicians and helped earn Jackie a Top 30 placing (Country genre) in the 2013 APRA Professional Development Award nominations.
Based in Helensburgh NSW, where the bush meets the sea, Jackie calls her original music ‘coastal country’. The left-handed guitarist balances her days with music, her work as a family relationship counsellor and being a wife and mother.
Upcoming shows for Jackie include the Canberra Country Blues and Roots Festival on November 15th and two shows during the 2014 Tamworth Country Music Festival both at the Central Hotel – for dates and times, check out Jackie’s official site
THERE were a lot of "ha-ha-ha" and "ho-ho-ho" noises when people gathered at Caringbah recently for a Laughter Yoga session as part of their Stress-Less program.
The course is run by Interrelate, a non-profit organisation that deals with relationship problems.
The Laughter Yoga class is a once-a-month experience for those who are healthy.
Counsellor Jackie Dee explained its origins.
"It started with an Indian medical doctor, Madan Kataria, in Mumbai," she said.
"He was writing an article for a medical journal and, in his research, found modern studies that showed improvement in the human body caused by laughter.
"He set up a laughter club and saw the benefits of acted and genuine laughter.
"With his wife being a yoga practitioner they created exercises incorporating yoga, breathing and laughter in a child-like playfulness and a blend of breathing, stretching and laughter exercises."
Laughter Yoga has now spread worldwide.
The idea of the Caringbah classes is to give participants a taste of the activity and to encourage them to go to other classes where they can do the exercises more often, ideally, once a week.
The Caringbah 45-minute session must be pre-booked and is held on the first Tuesday of the month. Next session is today, July 1.
Details: 8522 4450.
Have you tried Laughter Yoga?