picture- Kristin Horton
2016 is still a young year but The album that sets the mark is already released.
Dori Freeman’s splendid debut is a deft study on the hill and holler template crafted by the Carter family. Her sonic road winds through honky-tonks, coffee houses , and even classic pop, to deliver a surprisingly cohesive and enjoyable journey of style and influence.
In part the influences come Freeman’s upbringing in a musical family. Raised in the small, rural Appalachian independent city of Galax, Va. (population 7,042 as of the 2010 census) soaking in the sounds and cutting her teeth in her grandfather’s shop on the historic Crooked Road.
This self-titled debut, produced by Teddy Thompson (son of English folk/rock legend Richard) brings a contemporary spark to seemingly familiar territory. The sparse acoustic opener ‘You Say’ balances a women’s pining for affection, that ultimately will leave her “blue,” with her need for independence. Like Gillian Welch Freeman is not a belter, but uses her range in a beautifully nuanced that dips and sways as the song needs.
“Go On Lovin'” is a barroom lament of love lost that showcases Freeman’s aforementioned vocal style with a sublimely subtle yodel break in the chorus. Sanag with yearning over beautiful pedal steel, fiddle and piano accompaniment this will result in many tears in beers.
“Tell Me” and “Fine Fine Fine” are revamps of classic 60s lovesick pop confections that Lesley Gore would have killed to record. “Ain’t Nobody” has Freeman, accompanied by only finger snaps, has a very Peggy Lee “Fever” feel to it, though in this case it’s detailing the worker blues and not a steamy come-hither.
Dori Freeman is a sterling example of a new generation if roots influenced musicians . She has blessed us with an ambitious debut that defies, satisfies and proves that when an artist’s vision is unencumbered by chart placement or other arbitrary distractions a thing of beauty can be realized.