With a wispy, relaxed vocal tone reminiscent of 60’s singers as Sandy Posey (“Single Girl”), Robin Ward (“Wonderful Summer”) & Judith Durham (The Seekers) – Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountain native Dori Freeman offers a beautiful LP (Sept. 27) of positive-oriented songs about single-motherhood, small-town living, & authentic Americana palatable to the most discriminating ears.
Every Single Star (Blue Hens Music) even fortifies with some smooth, rich & classic (“All I Ever Wanted” & “I’ll Be Coming Home”) Linda Ronstadt era “Blue Bayou” styles. Linda heavily inspires some songs, but hey, if you’re going to take cues from anyone – Ms. Ronstadt is a wise choice.
Track 3 — more retro 60’s as well with Dori’s voice tailored to grace. “Like I Do,” is catchy & enforced by the fluid Zak Hobbs guitar lines. Steady drums of Nicholas Falk, Richard Hammond’s bass, & Erik Finland’s keyboards. The 10 song LP produced by Teddy Thompson (son of British folk legends Richard & Linda Thompson), has been a steady & successful producer of Dori’s material. A good team.
Teddy also produced Dori’s 2016 LP on Free Dirt. I missed that one but did listen with interest. Dori possesses a signature voice. Has recognizability like Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, & Mary Chapin Carpenter. Many compositions are standalone disciplined tunes. On that earlier LP as well as this new collection. What I enjoy is the total lack of mediocrity in her pen. Dori has good songwriting confidence. No fat, no novelty just nice lean tales.
The upbeat old-timey oom-pah-pah of “Another Time,” is refreshing. Eric’s swish of organ steadily accents as needed & perfectly without intruding. What these lack is what they should lack. No flash, no drum solos, no showboat lead guitar or power chords. The focus is on well-crafted melodies sung in a reliable tradition. Similar to many female vocalists who dominate the realm: Maria McKee, Allison Moorer, Eleanor McEvoy, Natalie Merchant & Aimee Mann types.
“Go On,” is exceptional. Dori’s vocal tone, arrangement & instrumentation is filled with perfect restrained emotion. This actually is mindful of Teddy’s own mother Linda Thompson who wrote wonderful songs like “Telling Me Lies,” — covered by Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris & Linda Ronstadt on their ‘87 Trio LP.
This song by Ms. Freeman, & “Darlin’ Boy,” would both fit brilliantly on a similar LP by singers of that caliber because Freeman’s that good a writer. The material Dori crafts have a pleasant uniqueness & enduring originality. It makes listening that much more interesting. I’ve heard many songs ad nauseum that are just duplicates of what everyone else writes. Not Dori.
Despite the simplicity, and that may the genius of the song, is “Walls of Me & You,” with a light touch fiddle (Alex Hargreaves) that only empowers the tune — suggesting Alison Krauss. It has Krauss charm. Teddy Thompson duets with Dori on an old-fashioned structured “2 Step.” This is a hint, for me, at a future duet LP. Their voices are perfectly suited. Just a thought.
Recorded in NY, the 10-track, 33-minute CD’s songs were all written by Dori Freeman: http://www.dorifreeman.com/