For some reason my memory of Dori Freeman’s first album was a collection of gentle beautifully executed folk songs, showcasing Freeman’s unparalleled voice. After listening to Letters Never Read, I went back to get a better understanding of just how much Freeman had grown in a year. I was surprised to hear that Freeman had a full band back then, too. It’s not that they weren’t interesting, it’s just that Freeman herself stood out so much. This time around, though, the band feels much more integrated into the songs.
Freeman’s first album worked because her raw talent was so palpable. In her sophomore release, there’s a certain confidence that makes each song on Letters Never Read joyous, regardless of the song’s content. Freeman skillfully weaves her original songs with the more traditional ones that must have floated around her in her hometown of Galax, Virginia. I think some attention should be paid to the song order here. It’s noteworthy to me that the first half of the album are comprised of original songs — repeating the themes of Freeman’s debut but with more of a swagger. The song about heartbreak is also one about picking oneself up once it’s all said and done. The song about loneliness hints that the end of those emotions are coming soon.
What floored me, though, was “Cold Waves,” an intimate exploration of depression that is succeeded by “En & Zorry’s Sneakin’ Bitin’ Dog,” a causal romp through Appalachia at night. To me at feels that Freeman is clearly stating her intention to add to the canon, and will do so by exploring head-on topics that are not necessarily explicitly spoken of.
Originally posted on Adobe & Teardrops