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Julie Lee

Julie Lee & the Baby-Daddies – 2012 (Still House Road)

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

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CDs by Julie Lee

The title of Julie Lee's seventh album is somewhat misleading. "Julie Lee and the Baby Daddies" has nothing to do with her own offspring. Apparently, she is a heck of a babysitter. The Nashville-based songwriter continuously received collaboration offers after rendering her child care skills to the likes of Kenny Vaughn (Lucinda Williams' guitarist) and Mike Bub (Del McCoury Band) The Baby Daddies were formed at a gig in 2010. Lee's songwriting incorporates various traditional American styles...folk, jazz, blues, bluegrass and country. The album is sonically gorgeous and has a blues-infused old time feel. Lee's distinctive mezzo soprano is becoming as instantly recognizable as Sarah Mclachlan's.

Of the 10 tracks, eight are original, laden with Lee's artful lyrics and subtle melodies. One of the highlights is How He Lied, co-written with Bill Tennyson of the appropriately titled label Cosmic Redneck Love Songs. A jilted woman gets revenge country style by shooting her man and his lover with a .44. It is the best example of Lee's songwriting talent. For such a macabre topic, the tune is driven by light banjo. It's a pleasant rocking chair porch telling of a brutal double murder.

Her cover of Carly Simon's Older Sister is performed in a light, pleasant cabaret style, accented by subtle mandolin. Alison Krauss and Tim O'Brien join Lee on Unto the Hills

Despite touring extensively as a solo artist in Europe and in the States and having songs cut by Pam Tillis, Ron Block, and most recently, Krauss, Lee's career has flown under the radar. It is one of the consequences of making a living as a songwriter. Lee is in top form here.