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.
[Editor/Author Note: This review was originally published by AMNplify. To view it on their website, click here.]