- September 27, 2019
- Kim Ruehl
- Album Reviews
by Kim Ruehl (@kimruehl), Folk Alley
Dori Freeman has teamed up with producer Teddy Thompson (son of Fairport Convention singer-songwriter Richard Thompson) once again for a remarkable album of toe-tapping, classic-style country songs.
Every Single Star (Blue Hens Music,) shows a level of growth and maturity from the Galax, Virginia-based singer-songwriter that has only been hinted toward on her previous, more folky albums.
The way Freeman delivers her melodies—her lilting alto like water droplets falling from a leaf—feels reminiscent of 1960s pop-country. Her themes are along that line, too, leaning heavy on love, longing, betrayal, and booze, all unleashed in clever turns of phrase and playful narration.
In “All I Ever Wanted,” an easy early highlight, she pours out unexpected lines with storyteller skill when she sings of “margaritas deep enough to fill a sink / now I’m spinning circles at the roller rink / drunk enough that I don’t even have to think.”
But rather than glorifying the overuse of alcohol, Freeman has a more stark-reality approach to the situation. Her chorus ends with the over-it-all confession: “All I ever wanted was a good man to give a damn and try.”
The rest of the album unfolds like it came out of a kit—Freeman makes the whole vibe feel so easy.
The only downside is the out-of-place “You Lie There,” with its solo-acoustic arrangement and intimacy that feels like the listener walked in on something they shouldn’t have. It’s a beautiful plea of a song. But its meandering, purely emotional melody and absence of repetitious hook, feels misplaced on what is otherwise a catchy collection of radio-friendly romps. I’d happily take a whole album of Freeman playing songs like that—it comes off as a hint that this artist is capable of nailing numerous styles. But it interrupts the continuity in a way.
It’s followed by the cowboy-pop trot, “Another Time,” whose chorus is easy and languid, punctuated by an echo from a couple angelic backup singers. That dumps us off into the dark, heavy “Go On,” then to the delightfully Dolly Parton-esque “Darlin’ Boy.” And the album wraps up with “I’ll Be Coming Home”—another solo, acoustic, intimate moment, but one which somehow makes sense. It’s the look one might give when they’re almost out the door then turn for a final word.
All told, Every Single Star is a beautiful album from one of the finest singer-songwriters outside of Nashville’s gravitational pull.