Chicoan Dee Dee Vest transforms sadness into music
“I know there are happy songs,” stated songwriter Dee Dee Vest from the stage at Moxie’s. “But these are just what I do.”
What Vest does is create songs that cut to the quick of their emotions. And more often than not those emotions she transforms into magnetic moods and melodies emerge from loss and loneliness. What prevents her songs from becoming depressing or simply maudlin is Vest’s dynamic alto—one can readily hear the influences of Baez and Joni Mitchell (particularly the latter in her song structures). Yet, there is a mysterious quality to Vest’s voice, especially in the way she warbles notes that snakily bend, slur and glissando, suggesting East Indian tonalities. Ultimately, her voice soars with the power of catharsis, of pain and sadness transformed into warm illumination.
Last Thursday night turned out to be a special evening, as Vest, accompanying herself on guitar, introduced her modest-sized audience to a few new songs. The most interesting of these was “The Journey,” composed after reading a book of Mary Oliver’s poems and introduced with the observation, “Sometimes we have to leave a situation to find out who we are.”
Also notable: “Rescue Me,” which details a weekend trapped in an isolated Nashville motel room; “30,” the tale of a friend who became seriously ill, hinged on the stark line, “She was only 30"; and her current set closer, “Does Love Go Deeper Than This,” a song almost designed to invite audience participation.
Vest plays regularly throughout Chico; give her a listen.