Transgender songwriter and artist Baby Dee has been building a strong cult following since 2001’s “Little Window,” and last month’s splendid “Safe Inside the Day” (Drag City) should continue the graceful avalanche of attention. Built with piano, string accompaniment, affecting bass and Dee’s moving cabaret-style voice, the record documents the artist’s upbringing in 1950s Cleveland, and the subject matter creates a nostalgic ache, not unknown in Dee’s previous work, of course, but here it’s an even more glorious trip. The remarkable arrangements—pushed forward so gently by brushed, sporadic drums—lead to theater-like performance, and the emotive, often cathartic results find, amidst all the oddness, a heart-stopping after-burn. “Back in the fifties/Clark Kent died/It’s a bird/It’s a plane/It’s suicide,” could’ve been a creatively disastrous lyric, but Dee’s delivery is powerful enough to pull it off. Stirring work overall. (Tom Lynch)
Baby Dee plays February 7 at Empty Bottle, 1035 North Western, (773)276-3600, at 10pm. $12.