Billy Dee Reviewed
Heart, Don't Fail Me Now
Reviewed by Jerry Renshaw, Fri., Oct. 10, 2003
Billy DeeHeart, Don't Fail Me Now
Comes a time when a sideman feels the need to strike out on his own. Billy Dee, after logging many, many hours playing bass for Dale Watson (among many, many others), is doing just that. Now, the simplest way to go would be to split his solo debut between covers and originals, but Dee fields nothing but originals on Heart, Don't Fail Me Now. Sticking to the tried-and-true honky-tonk subjects of lovin', cheatin', and drinkin', this is a strong first outing. Dee possesses a baritone a lot of singers would kill for, and it comes out to great advantage on the leadoff "What'll I Do" and the title track. He also has another run at "Back to Back," a melancholy tale of love gone stale that also appears on one of Volkaert's solo efforts, while "Everybody's Got Somebody But Me" is a smooth shuffle that could very nearly pass for vintage Ray Price. On the other side of the coin, "Don't Give Up on Love" is insipid lyrically, and "Rodeo Cowboys," a tale of the bull-riding circuit and the men with "shit on their jeans" is downright weak. Closer "Billy the Kid" wraps things up in grand style with a trip back to the Old West. Co-produced by Dee and Watson, the playing and mix are good throughout without being flashy or upstaging the singer. Anyone who's seen Dee play knows that he's got a great voice and solid timing. Here, he's front and center, and standing on his own two feet quite well.
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