Dee White’s debut record is one groovy trip that harkens back to the days of Don Gibson, Ronnie Milsap, and the best of the sleek sounding country music that dominated the ‘60s and ‘70s. White, an Alabama native, recorded the album Southern Gentleman under the guidance of producer Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) and the result is nothing short of brilliant. Featuring collaborations with Ashley McBryde and Alison Krauss, Dee White’s Southern Gentleman shines as one of the best albums I have heard this year, regardless of genre. White was discovered by “The Man with Golden Ears,” Mr. Harold Shedd, who has long been noted for his ability to recognize immense talent and for connecting that talent with the means to become full-fledged stars. Shedd discovered the likes of Alabama, Reba McEntire, Shania Twain, and Toby Keith, and now he can add the young Dee White to his roster of great discoveries – and if White’s debut record is any indication – I believe he will soon shine just as bright as the others on Shedd’s list.
The album gets kicked off with the funky opening track “Wherever You Go”, which features some bluesy guitar laid over subtle harmonica and pedal steel accompaniment. In the song, the narrator is making it clear that he has found the one he wants to be with and no matter where they go or what they do, he is going to be right by their side. “If I lose you/my mind goes too/so wherever you go/I’m going with you.” The song serves as an excellent kick-off for the album showcasing White’s distinctive sound, writing chops, and vocal talent – setting the stage for what is to follow. The third track on the album, “Bucket of Bolts”, captures the nostalgia of remembering better days that have long gone by. Driving around in your old car (the titular bucket of bolts), picking up old friends, and spending summer days down by the local water hole. The remembrances become bittersweet when the narrator makes it clear that those moments are long gone – “Lord knows how I love those good ole pals of mine/We’ve all gone our separate ways but we’ll always have those good ole days/Ain’t no takin’ those away/They’re locked inside my mind.” The song makes me recall past friendships that have diverged over time and it helps me realize just how valuable the time we spent together truly was. Perfect ingredients for a country song.
Other highlights from the record include the song “Crazy Man” which presents a fella who has had to shed his wild ways in order to be with the woman he loves. The song features an excellent vocal delivery by White who demonstrates that he can reach the highest of notes with ease, recalling a young Roy Orbison, while maintaining his groovy style. The track “Ol’ Muddy River” is one fun tune describing a country boy who likes to fish and spend time down by the ol’ muddy river – featuring lines about a country girl waiting on him with a honeysuckle bud in her brown hair – I most certainly wouldn’t mind trading places with him down by the river. The duet track “Road that Goes Both Ways” finds White sharing lines with the marvelous Ashely McBryde. The song details a relationship that is being strained by distance and yet the love between the two still prevails. “Maybe someday we’ll settle down/Lord I guess it’s hard to say/Cause we’re traveling a road/It’s the one that we chose/And it goes both ways.” The voices of White and McBryde blend together like sugar and tea marking their duet as one of the many highlights on the album.
Overall, Dee White’s premiere album Southern Gentleman is an excellent debut full of groovy country songs, heart-stirring ballads, and great collaborations. The album invokes nostalgia for days that have long since passed and White, only being twenty-one years old, has demonstrated a skill and delivery that is way beyond his years. I’d most certainly recommend this album to anyone that loves the timeless smooth sounding country tunes from the ‘60s and ‘70s, for that is the sound it recalls. I’d also recommend the album to anyone that wishes to get reconnected with an old friend because in many ways that is what listening to Southern Gentleman feels like. It is new and yet familiar in the greatest of ways. I look forward to hearing what Dee has in store for us next. https://www.deewhite.com
Dee White – Southern Gentleman (2019)
- Wherever You Go
- Rose of Alabam
- Bucket of Bolts
- Crazy Man
- Tell the World I Do
- Ol’ Muddy River
- Road That Goes Both Ways (feat. Ashley McBryde)
- Way Down
- Oh No
- Under Your Skin