Album Review – Dori Freeman’s “Every Single Star”

photo: Kristina LeBlanc

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.

7.5/10

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