Album Review – Dori Freeman’s “Every Single Star”
Music is what we turn to for reprieve from the common irritations and emotional burdens of everyday life. Galax, Virginia’s Dori Freeman is uncommonly blessed with the ability to dispel those difficulties and replace them with a warm appreciation for the simple joys of living through the pacifying nature of her songs, and the pleasing timbre of her sound. The mere mention of Dori Freeman can result in a more even mood for those aware of her music, while her personal story of perseverance makes her just as much a muse as a musician.
Coming from the bluegrass and old-time world which Galax, VA is a proving ground for, the music of Dori Freeman is impressed with the roots, but is better to consider as singer/songwriter in style from the way the stories come to the forefront, while the tones and textures of the music are conveyed in a more hushed tenor.
For the third time, Dori Freeman has collaborated with producer Teddy Thompson (son of Richard Thompson) to release her latest record Every Single Star. Dori’s self-titled debut from 2016 immediately sent her to the front row of today’s roots-infused songwriters, bolstered by the strength of her musings about a breakup that left her sullen and torn, and a single mother. Her second record Letters Never Read was a bit more hopeful, building in notions of finding new love, and getting over old troubles. On Every Single Star, Freeman continues this healing process, but still draws from the frustrations from her history to make a record that touches many moods, and still feels inspired despite the cessation of her own personal heartbreak, drawing on love instead.
Different from her first two albums that were built around old-time notions like a capella performances, acoustic solo tracks, and public domain material, Every Single Star has a distinctively 70’s folk pop aspect to it with a bit more body to the music overall. It still has that intimate feel of a Dori Freeman record, but this effort may open her canon of work to a wider audience beyond the Appalachia roots realm. No more song titles like “Yonder Comes A Sucker” and “Ern & Zorry’s Sneakin’ Bitin’ Dog,” and on to material that feels more retro than old-time in tone.
Dori carries the audience along with her as she sings a sweet little tune to her daughter called “Like I Do,” and professes her love and devotion to her new husband (and drummer) in “That’s How I Feel.” But the residual effects of a broken heart are still heard in “Go On,” “Darlin’ Boy,” and “Walls Of Me and You.” Teddy Thompson joins Dori on vocals for one of the album’s most distinctly country songs, “2 Step.”
As her third record in four years, Every Single Star signals that Dori is serious and dedicated in her pursuit as a songwriter. And though each entry into the track list is really solid, you don’t really hear that definitive track on this album, like “You Say” from her first record, or “If I Could Make You My Own” on her second. The electrifying of tones may turn off some of those old-time fans, but the thought is that it will broaden the appeal of Dori Freeman to others, and keep her clear of making the same record three times. Still, Dori’s old-time style is what made her unique, and the tracks of Every Single Star may be more difficult to translate live if she continues to travel as a two piece.
Nonetheless, the magnetic appeal for the music of Dori Freeman remains, and despite her mood-altering quality being an ethereal attribute, Dori and Teddy Thompson are once again able to capture and enhance it in Every Single Star. Released on the very busy release day of Friday, September 27th, it’s a title not to be overlooked.
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October 15, 2019 @ 8:54 am
That duet with Teddy Thompson is as country as I’ve heard in a while. She’s got a great voice.
October 15, 2019 @ 9:09 am
I thought this was a great 3rd album from her. It’s right up there with Emily Scott Robinson and Kelsey Walden’s latest.
October 15, 2019 @ 1:49 pm
I love Kelsey Waldon’s new album–Iin a year of amazing music, it may be my AOTY. I’m pretty crazy about Croy and the Boys’ album, though. Thanks for the tip about Emily Scott Robinson. there has been so much amazing new music this year that it’s hard to keep up!
October 15, 2019 @ 9:37 am
Wow – “2 Step” is awesome!
October 15, 2019 @ 10:01 am
October 15, 2019 @ 10:09 am
I was lucky enough to see her perform on her record release day. She has a wonderful voice and witty, heartfelt songs. This is the first album of hers that I absolutely loved, but I admit it is the most accessible, too. This one definitely needs its own place to shine.
October 15, 2019 @ 11:09 am
2 Step is incredible. First time hearing her. New fan here. Thanks Trigger .
October 15, 2019 @ 11:50 am
Wow. I love the sound of this record. Vocals way out front. Thanks, Trigger.
October 15, 2019 @ 12:00 pm
So good. She makes the world a better place.
October 15, 2019 @ 12:30 pm
Should be all over the Opry.
October 15, 2019 @ 12:34 pm
Hey Trig – I haven’t been able to post my own blogs on here? Hit me up when that’s sorted. Just dropping a note brother – JJ Cale’s first posthumous album came out 2019 and your 6 month list is coming up. Don’t sleep on it. Drop me a line when you want me on that podcast. Cheers.
October 15, 2019 @ 8:02 pm
I’m not sure I exactly understand the question. Are you not able to post comments? I’m not sure what you mean by “blogs.” I just checked the spam filter and I don’t see anything of your comments there. Not sure what 6 month list you’re referring to either, and I don’t have a podcast.
October 19, 2019 @ 8:58 am
I’m not sure what I was talking about there. I think I was on about your mid-year best of lists but forgot what month it was at the time of the comment. That’s my bad.
October 15, 2019 @ 12:52 pm
Good and fair review. I’d say the first two albums were more immediately satisfying for me as they were a little bit more up my alley as a roots music fan, but after a few listens, I’d have to say that this is another fine album from her.
October 15, 2019 @ 1:12 pm
I did enjoy the added variety from the old-time pieces on her previous two, but this album feels more comfortably settled into a particular vibe, while still retaining enough variety to not all sound the same.
Regarding live, I kind of think this album sounds built to be stripped. Distilled down to an acoustic guitar and percussion, with her voice carrying the melody, I think it’ll sound great!
October 15, 2019 @ 4:53 pm
I don’t doubt that this album has a 1970s folk-pop aspect to it, almost as though Dori took a little bit of Joni Mitchell’s influence and combined it with her own southwest Virginia roots. And then there’s the influence of Linda Ronstadt on “All I Ever Wanted”, with its “Blue Bayou”-influenced Latin vibe.
Just for those reasons alone, but for many others as well, this has to count as one of the best albums of 2019 in any musical genre.
October 16, 2019 @ 7:40 am
70’s indeed ….and man is it working .
the song is the focus and melody is king …at least in these two posts . but its that ” sing- me -anything -and- I’ll -love -it ” vocal sound that sells the package for dori , IMO
like chris night’s record , her music could move me with just her voice and acoustic guitar . but the rhythm section’s shuffle is what will put me on the dance floor and perhaps win her a few followers more accustomed to the band sound .
and yes …as someone else mentioned here , the vocals are up front , unaffected and pitched beautifully .
I hear a bit of ” golden hour ” in a lot of newer alt/roots/americana stuff right now ( Jade Kelly , Emily Scott, michaela anna ) ….that big acoustic presence tastefully supported by the ‘band ‘ . and , of course , the musgraves record certainly tapped into a bit of a 70’s vibe quite successfully . again ….i think its , in large part , an attention being paid to the nearly lost art of crafting a melody .
listening to dori ‘s voice on these tracks is like swimming in honey …….and i think i could get VERY used to swimming in honey …….and I’ll be spreading the word
October 16, 2019 @ 3:47 pm
I love finding out about new (to me) artists and then being able to go in and listen to their previous albums. I spent a good 3 hours listening to all of Dori’s albums over and over again. Her voice is just so beautiful. This is why I check in to SCM a few times a week. Thanks Trigger!
October 19, 2019 @ 4:32 pm
Dori is one of the great overlooked talents in American music. Nice to see SCM showing her some love.
October 23, 2019 @ 5:07 am
Wow! Why is adult radio playing crap when they could be playing this?
July 3, 2020 @ 6:16 pm
I just found that she and her new husband recorded an EP called “Heavenly Sunlight” via Bankdcamp — have you heard anything about their new group, “The Blue Hens”? Been trying to find more information, but there doesn’t seem to be much out there on the Internet.