Usually within the first couple of listens to an artist, I can tell if they have the “it” factor. I can tell if there’s something different from your average artist and it’s an exciting feeling to come across an artist like this. After listening to Dee White, he’s most definitely this type of artist. His voice reminds me a lot of the late, great Roy Orbison (tender, yet soulful). White’s approach and style of music is a modern take on the countrypolitan/Nashville sound of the 1960s, which is something I’ve been dying to see in modern country music. White has released his first bits of music, albeit an unusual approach, Side A of his debut album Southern Gentleman. So with this different type of release, I’m going to do a different type of review. I’m going to review Side A today and the second part/conclusion of the review will happen when he releases Side B in 2019.
Southern Gentleman opens up with “Wherever You Go,” a love ballad and ode from a man to his woman that he’ll follow wherever she goes and be by her side. It’s a solid love song and opener. White though really delivers a great one in “Rose of Alabam.” The song is about leaving the comfort of his current woman in Georgia (which he likens to a daisy) for the lust he thinks is love of a woman in Alabama (which he likens to a rose). The comparisons really do a good job demonstrating the complications of leaving love for another love and the differences between the way he views both women. It’s hard to leave something you’re familiar with, but the temptation of the unknown and new is irresistible too.
I enjoy every song on Side A and it can be hard to pick a favorite. But if I have to pick one, it would be “Bucket of Bolts.” The songwriting on this is excellent and speaks to the true talent that White possesses. The opening lyrics just immediately hook you: “Things meant more when I had less/That’s the way it goes I guess/The more I have, I must confess/The more I need.” The lines are so simple, yet are so insightful and resonating with the listener. The song centers around a man’s old car and all of the memories he made with friends in it from years past. And even though he never sees them anymore, he knows he’ll always have those memories. All while he keeps his old car, which symbolizes all of the experiences and emotions of his past. The sentimentality of vehicles and nostalgia are stale topics in country music, but White takes these topics and makes a fantastic song.
“Crazy Man” is a song about a man becoming a better person thanks to the love of his life. He’s shed his wild ways and is now living better. It’s very much along the lines of Chris Stapleton’s “Up To No Good Livin'” and in a different era of country music, this song is a big hit. It’s really these final two songs on Side A where White reminds you of Orbison as he hits the higher notes. “Tell The World I Do” really nails the countrypolitan sound with its lush and orchestral feel, yet also decidedly modern feeling (credit to producers Dan Auerbach & David Ferguson). Too many acts that incorporate a retro sound into their music fail to make it feel modern and it’s a blatant copy and paste of a previous sound. I also don’t get bored when listening to White like other acts that incorporate retro sounds. This song is so smooth and fits White like a glove.
Dee White delivers a great slice of music on Side A and I can’t wait to hear the rest of Southern Gentleman in 2019. White is an artist that you need to keep an eye on, as he truly shows a lot of promise in his first glimpse of music.
Grade (So Far): 9/10
Album’s Top Highlights: Bucket of Bolts, Rose of Alabam, Crazy Man, Tell The World I Do
Producers: Dan Auerbach & David Ferguson
Songwriter: Dee White