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Dori Freeman

Dori Freeman – 2016 (Free Dirt)

Reviewed by Fred Frawley

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CDs by Dori Freeman

Galax lies the in southwestern corner of Virginia. Mention of Galax immediately conjures the Blue Ridge Mountains and their music. The Old Fiddlers' Convention has been hosted in Galax for 80 years. So, it should come as no surprise that a new, clear and supple voicing of country music, Dori Freeman, hails from Galax, and that her music finds a vein of pure country and mines it well.

Freeman's voice is startlingly clear and true. "Dori Freeman" is a perfect counterpoint to the beer, hats and banjo-synthesized pop country of this century. The CD shakes hands with an earlier time and brings it to our time with great success.

From the opening "You Say," Freeman states her case with a simple, but sure vocal line, with minimal instrumentation on most cuts. There's no need to distract from her voice. "Where I Stood" follows, in a slightly lower register, but with the same effect. There's an agreeable amount of lap steel guitar throughout to act as a counterpoint to Freeman's voice, but it serves to remind that this is a country music record, pure and simple.

As can be expected on a debut, there are a couple of misses, but those are far outweighed by the strikes that hit the mark. The CD begins by making the case for Freeman's country bona fides and then slips into higher production values (i.e. more background instrumentation) that echo country pop ("Tell Me" and "Fine Fine Fine"), but still do not seem shopworn; Freeman's country sensibility never is far from the surface, and it serves her well.

The record was produced by Teddy Thompson, who manifestly has her best interests in mind. The record reverts back to Freeman's core strength with "Lullaby" and "Song For Paul." All the songs are written by Freeman, so credit is due to her songwriting skills. "Ain't Nobody" is a strong gospel/country swing number, but to listeners of a certain age, might echo Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons" a bit too much.

Freeman's voice, echoing Loretta Lynn in the lower range, and Dolly Parton up above, scores consistently. It's a sound that commands attention and holds great promise.