Sometimes you listen to new music and it just takes a while to sink in. It’s not always that you need time to assimilate complexity when it’s presented to you – deep lyrics, layered meanings and arrangements, for example. No, there are occasions when you need to embrace the beautiful simplicity of it all.
A recent case in point for yours truly. Sam Outlaw’s 2015 release Angeleno, which ended up being in my top 20 albums of 2015.
Here we have another one.
Twenty-four year old Dori Freeman’s debut album is a spell-binder. You see, it’s her voice, as pure and defining as you could possibly imagine – it commands the air around you.
Freeman comes from the tiny but very important music town of Galax, Virginia. It lies along The Crooked Road music heritage trail in the Appalachians and has fascinating attractions like Barr’s Fiddle Shop, the Rex Theatre and is close to The Blue Ridge Music Centre. Galax also hosts the annual Old Fiddler’s Convention which has been going for around eighty years. There’s a deep vein of music running through the generations here with families of musicians dating back a hundred years. I travelled a good part of The Crooked Road including Galax in 2014 and you can read my account here.
Dori Freeman’s debut album is out February 5, 2016 on Free Dirt Records. Produced by Teddy Thompson, it’s crammed full of achingly beautiful originals and demonstrates a surprising maturity. Freeman’s voice has immense range and subtlety and I can almost imagine her singing Ulysses by James Joyce backwards and it would still sound enchanting!
Plenty of musical variety here – straight-up country, unaccompanied gorgeous gospel, Western swing, neo-folk, doo-wop and soul The album was recorded over only three days in New York City and enlisted artists like Jon Graboff (The Cardinals) on guitar and steel guitar, Jeff Hill on bass, renowned pop/jazz pianist Erik Deutsch (Norah Jones, Rosanne Cash), drummer Rob Walbourne, and violin phenom Alex Hargreaves (Sarah Jarosz, David Grisman).
Dori Freeman’s arrival is a blessing for us all.