Dori Freeman’s previous albums have established her a musician with understated charm and soft country styling. Her new record Ten Thousand Roses takes a step further into the spotlight, with more confidence and personality than before. The cover art shows an artist meeting our eye, with a self-assured stare.
Get You Off of My Mind begins with a flourish of sensual melody and dreamy music. The album is produced by her husband Nicholas Falk and perhaps this brings a further sense of intimacy in the way she sings and reveals herself on this album.
The Storm is unusual in its arrangements and really brings the distinctive tone of her voice to the centre. She offers advice to a friend (or anyone) who is struggling with a lying, cheating man. Don’t you let the storm win, she warns as though she’s been there herself and knows that swimming free is the only way out.
Almost Home is the story of her love and life lived without regret, looking forward with hope. The swirl of country instrumentation sounds so beautiful and comforting, reminiscent of her earlier albums in tone and theme.
To really stamp your personality on a listener can require some artistic and lyrical bravery which Dori offers on the confessional ‘I Am’. She sounds almost fed up with the assumptions made about her being ‘nice’ and ‘good’ (perhaps because of how sweet her music and voice often sounds). Here she admits to having a ‘mind that’s dirty as the bottom of a coffee can’ and being a ‘drama queen’. In the end she admits to being ‘tired of acting like I give a damn.’ This is a revelatory moment, both lyrically and musically.
From there she owes ‘Nobody Nothing’ and all that’s left to do is ‘ring the bell’ and ‘make a joyful sound’. Taking credit for how she’s built herself up from nowhere, she sounds proud of her achievements in a way that is heartening to hear. From there she offers us the political Appalachian, taking aim at the people in power who ‘keep us under their boot’, asserting her pride at being where she’s from and the unfairness of the power imbalance in society. The working people are celebrated here as she concludes ‘I’d say a calloused hand/ Is far better than a callous mind.’ A truth spoken with clear-eyed conviction.
Dori recently shared a list of her favourite waltzes over on the Bluegrass Situation so it is fitting she includes a classic country song of her own here on Walk Away with Logan Ledger. Even thought the album offers a slightly more alternative musical direction she still honours the sounds she was brought up with, from the place that made her.
Title track Ten Thousand Roses celebrates love that sets fire to the flowers, finding the truth in the wild wilderness of true emotion. She has no time for clowns, weakness or those who wish to ‘hammer’ her into the ground. The love she searches for echoes back like a ‘canyon’ – a true meeting of two minds and hearts.
Growing up is also about letting go of dreaming and so on ‘I Wanted To’ she moves on from a lover who rejects her advances. Musically this is surprisingly heavy, indie rock which really works so well in contrast with her vocals.
To be sure of yourself is one thing but this album also offers compassion for others going through the struggle too. She covers Only You Know is a kind hearted reminder to a loved one that there’s ‘better things’ in the future and she will ‘be there’ for them.
Ten Thousand Roses burns with heart and conviction, proving Dori Freeman to be one of the most interesting and inspiring artists in Americana music today.