Sunday, April 24, 2022

CD Odyssey Disc 1554: Dori Freeman

I had a slow start to finding new music for 2022, but it has picked up of late. Anyone who doesn’t think good music is getting made anymore, needs to get out there and listen to more music.

This next artist still feels new to me, even though she’s been around for six years and released four albums. Time flies when your ears are having fun.

Disc 1554 is…. Ten Thousand Roses

Artist: Dori Freeman

Year of Release: 2021

What’s up with the Cover? The old head & shoulders shot, with Dori showcasing a tattoo of some heart-shaped glasses done in that rustic style the young folks often favour these days.

You can just see the top of Dori’s ear through her hair. Combined with all that lush greenery in the background, I must posit that she may, in fact, be an elf.

How I Came To Know It: I am a Dori Freeman fan dating back to her incredible debut album. I ranked that album #1 for 2016.

How It Stacks Up: “Ten Thousand Roses” is not the quality of Freeman’s debut. Of my four Dori Freeman albums it comes in…fourth.

Ratings: 3 stars

I was at a party last night and I found the subject had turned to music. I was trying (not entirely successfully) to explain how Amon Amarth weren’t just Viking death metal, they were melodic Viking death metal. It’s the melodic part that holds me. After many years of music appreciation, I am not easily fooled by clever production (more often I’m annoyed by it) and while I do love a clever arrangement, it doesn’t matter much if the song lacks strong bones.

Which brings us to Dori Freeman. Freeman is pure folk-country. You will not find a single bar of double-bass, and nary a mention of Vikings, but like most music that draws me in, she is a brilliant songwriter. She knows how to make a melody lilt in your mind, novel enough to catch your attention and timeless enough that you feel like you’ve heard it a thousand times.

Complementing her talent for songwriting, Freeman has one of those voices that instantly connects. She has a rich tone that lends itself to the intimate storytelling that is hallmark of her style, and a power that fills a room while never has her resorting to belting it out to make it happen.

On “Ten Thousand Roses” the production is a bit more involved than previous records. I find that as folk artists establish themselves they often “grow” their sound in new ways. I could have used a bit less of that production in places on this record, but it isn’t so lush as to get in the way.

In fact, despite the “dressier” quality to the sound, “Ten Thousand Roses” still feels intensely personal. A lot of the songs relate to an exploration of the self, and the values that make up our decisions. On “I Am” she serves notice that the image of sweet girl from the Appalachians is only true to a point, starting with:

“I ain’t a good girl, though everybody thinks I am
I got a mind that’s dirty as the bottom of a coffee can”

The song had me thinking of Eminem’s “The Way I Am.” It is a whole lot subtler, but the notion that “I’ll define myself, thank you very much” is equally front and centre.

The record has appeals to Freeman’s folk roots, one of the best being “Appalachian,” which has her reminiscing about growing up in Galax, Virginia, with some critical commentary on how such rural communities often struggle to get ahead.

And while the record holds strong to her folk beginnings, songs like “Walk Away” take a base of Patsy Cline country and layer in sixties pop croon that reminded me favourably of She & Him.

That theme bears out on the record’s final song, which is a cover of Dion’s 1975 song “Only You Know” written by Gerry Goffin and Phil Spector. The song fits perfectly on the record, which hearkens back to a simpler time in music, while still containing the bite of truth that signals there will also be some exploration of the soul mixed in with the sugary composition.

In the end, while “Ten Thousand Roses” isn’t my favourite Dori Freeman album, it is still a worthy entry into her small but impressive catalogue.

Best tracks: The Storm, I Am, Nobody Nothing, Appalachian

1 comment:

Casey Farrell said...

Nice. I was wondering about this record, and then forgot about it wjile waiting for a cd release. Now you confirm it's worthy, and I presume, that it's now available on cd. Thanks!