Dori Freeman’s first single, featuring the production of Teddy Thompson and guitar of his father Richard Thompson, has the same tragic beauty Freeman showcased on her first album but with a renewed spirit, an optimistic bent that belies the times it was written in. Combining traditional Appalachian folk songs with her own, timeless, songwriting Dori Freeman’s sophomore album, Letters Never Read, is a reverent breath of fresh air. Listen here
Dori fleshed out a few other songs on the record with guests including Aiofe O’Donovan on “Just Say It Now” and “Cold Waves”, while Canadian Psychedelic-Americana duo Kacy and Clayton add vocals and electric guitar on 70s country-rock inspired “I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight”.
Dori Freeman grew up in a family of bluegrass musicians, raised on a diet of Doc Watson and the Louvin Brothers. But by driving age, she’d cruise around her hometown of Galax, Virginia, windows down, breeze riffling her cropped strawberry-blonde hair, and harmonize with the pop melodies of singer-songwriter Teddy Thompson playing on her CD player. “I always thought that our voices sounded nice together,” Freeman says in a rough-edged, Appalachian twang. The feeling stuck with her, and at one point, Freeman did something odd for a 22-year-old single mom working at the family’s frame shop: she reached out to him via Facebook, with a note saying how much she would like to sing with him. Three days later, he wrote back. Two years after that, The New York Times named Freeman’s self-titled debut—an honest and achingly beautiful collection of folk and country songs produced by Thompson and recorded in three days—one of the best albums of 2016. They weren’t alone, rave reviews poured in for Dori’s debut, hailing her as the new voice of Appalachia.
While Freeman’s debut hewed to love-gone-wrong songs, her new album, the more measured and maturely crafted Letters Never Read—again produced by Teddy Thompson and featuring guest appearances by his dad Richard Thompson, as well as Aiofe O’Donovan and Canadian psych-folk duo Kacy & Clayton —has a distinctly rosier outlook. “I always want to put out something that’s a genuine representation of what I was going through at that point in my life,” says Freeman, noting that getting married last year to fellow musician Nick Falk (who plays drums and banjo on the album) made writing love songs much easier. She laughs. “I’m happier now in general.”