In the three years since her self-titled debut took the Americana world by surprise and garnered critical and popular acclaim, Dori Freeman has gone through a lot of changes. The songs on Dori Freeman mostly centered around the breakup she was going through at the time, leaving her facing life as a single mother in a small Appalachian town. In the meantime she has released more records, toured the U.S. and Europe, and made a much happier marriage (to drummer Nick Falk).
So it’s little wonder that the 10 songs on Every Single Star (the second release on her own label Blue Hens Music after 2017’s Letters Never Read) revolve around her feelings as a contented mother and spouse rather than a jilted lover. Which is not to say it’s all sunshine and roses. Her tender solo ballad “I’ll Be Coming Home” is a sadly sweet promise to her child – one that’s made by countless musicians like her who have to take to the road to make a living or spend hours in a studio recording. And immediately on its heels comes the fast shuffle of “Like I Do,” a sprightly and more upbeat song about maternal love. “That’s How I Feel” is a jaunty love song about the delicious feeling of missing someone who you’ll see again soon. “Another Time” is a gently rocking ode to a relationship that’s both homey and professional, Falk’s kickdrum sounding like a steady heartbeat as it sets the rhythm.
Freeman still finds plenty of time to meditate on the kind of sentiments more common in country music. The opening track (which she says was inspired by Linda Ronstadt) “All I Ever Wanted” finds her stating her longing for “a decent man to give a damn and try.” And the album closes with “2 Step,” a classic country-style duet with Teddy Thompson, who has produced all three of Freeman’s releases and whose sweet tenor blends perfectly with her buttermilk-smooth alto. It’s a duet worthy of Dolly and Porter or George and Tammy, with the two parties trying to figure out if they still love each other.
Scattered throughout are more standard country fare like “Darlin’ Boy,” the slow waltz-time ode to falling for a cute guy even though you know he’s bad news; “Go On,” a pop-friendly anthem that sounds like a conflicted ode to the off-and-on behavior of the father of her son; “You Lie There,” in which the singer expresses frustration with a man who can’t express his emotions; and the bitter end-of-love song “Walls Of Me And You.”
Dori Freeman is amassing an impressive catalog of work as she grows into her professional career as a songwriter, recording artist and performer, as well as a mature adult navigating her way through the world. Every Single Star is yet another solid demonstration of how to turn the particulars of a life into songs with universal appeal. As she says in the album’s press release, “I like to write about things I’ve been through because I know that pretty much every other woman has likely been through those same things.”
(Blue Hens Music, 2019)