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Great songs, great playing

Still Dreaming
Still Dreaming
By Dee Ray

Self-released: 2006

Buy it now

This review first appeared in the January 25, 2007 issue of the North County Times.

San Diego's Dee Ray sounds so much like Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders that it's a bit spooky at first. And at times, the overall sound of her band isn't too different from the Pretenders circa 1988. And yet, this is no tribute band nor even stylistic rip-off. Put the blame on genes and history – not Ray's fault she sounds remarkably like someone who got famous before her, and there are few bands post 1990 that weren't influenced by Hynde.

Anyway, once you hear the 10 songs Ray wrote for her second album, "Still Dreaming," you'll be so smitten you won't be able to think about anything other than the fact that it's borderline criminal that she's not a world-famous star yet. From the jangly, accessible pop of "Some Dreams" through the regretful rocker "Lost," from the gorgeous power ballad "NYC" through the hypnotic love song "Other Side" and the countrified rocker "The Line," Ray has written a passel of classic rock and pop songs that ought to populate San Diego's musical landscape for years to come.

A solid bass player in addition to being a charismatic, riveting singer, Ray has assembled a solid band. Johnny Ford's guitar work has a personality strong enough to be immediately identifiable across the band's entire stylistic spectrum. Drummer Alan Leasure is rock steady while still playing with a very fluid feel, and Sue del Guidice's keyboards help give the band a sound that is not just full, but complete.

The production is remarkably clean, the packaging polished and professional. This is a heck of a release – one that would be impressive on one of the major labels, but is even more so coming from a local musician working with her own resources.