This interview was first published on October 17, 2017
Singer-songwriter Dori Freeman is about to drop her sophomore album Letters Never Read, coming October 20th, 2017. Freeman has again teamed up with renowned folk-rocker Teddy Thompson as the producer.
“I knew I wanted to work with Teddy again and just try to continue and evolve what and we did on the first record”, Freeman says.
She collaborated with Teddy’s even more acknowledged dad Richard Thompson (of Fairport Convention fame), Canadian psych-folk duo Kacy & Clayton and Irish-American songbird Aofie O’Donovan. ”I wanted to collaborate with them because they are all musicians I listen to and admire greatly, plain and simple”, Freeman says.
Dori Freeman hails from the Appalachians, born in Galax, Va, a small town with a rich heritage of old-time music. She grew up in a family of bluegrass musicians, and learned the legacy of Doc Watson and the Louvin Brothers from an early age. At the age of 22 the hard working single mom reached out to her musical favorite Teddy Thompson on Facebook for a possible collaboration. Thompson quickly replied, and went on to produce her critically acclaimed 2016 debut album.
Letters Never Read is a triumphant follow-up, including cover songs by her grandfather Willard Gayheart, and Richard & Linda Thompson, equally rooted in traditional Appalachian folk and sophisticated singer-songwriter pop music, more optimistic and light-hearted without ever compromising on the craftsmanship of poignant storytelling and ‘drawing from inspirations all over the map’.
We caught up with Dori Freeman for a chat about her new album.
Congratulations with a new album on the way. What do we get and what’s it about?
10 songs, six originals and four covers. Hard to sum up in a few words what it’s about, but it’s got songs I grew up listening to, one written by my grandfather, a song written by Teddy’s father, and some originals that ponder love from differing perspectives.
What was your initial idea for this album – what inspired you the most?
I was inspired by a lot of things – paying homage to the music I grew up on and pairing that with the originals that have a very different feel. Family inspires me always, a new relationship, reconciling living with depression, pairing of percussion and voice, etc. Inspirations all over the map.
Did you have a clear idea on how Letters Never Read would be from the get-go, or did the album gradually evolve as a process?
I’d say it was more of a gradual evolution. I just try to write and record things from a genuine place and hope by doing that everything will come together into something good.
What is the biggest difference or development compared to your debut?
I was in a much different and more positive place in my life when I made Letters Never Read compared to my debut. I think the record reflects that.
You worked with Teddy Thompson again, producing the album. Can you shed some light on the recording sessions? How did you work out the songs and what kind of sound did you look for this time?
Teddy is wonderful to work with. He has a very clear vision in the studio and he’s very good at coaxing that out of people. Generally, I play all the songs for Teddy on acoustic guitar and then from there we come up with a groove for each song. My husband, the drummer on this record, Nicholas Falk, is also responsible for a lot of the arranging and overall feels on many of these songs.
Unfortunately I wasn’t in the studio at the same time as Richard Thompson, but unsurprisingly he nailed the vision for “If I Could Make You My Own.”
What would be your preferred setting to ultimately enjoy the LP?
While this won’t be immediately released on LP, my favorite place to listen to any recording is in the car.
How would you pair this album with a meal or beverage?
Fizzy water and anything chocolate.
Which albums or songs inspired you the most in the making of this album?
I guess this is an obvious answer since I record songs by each of them, but Fairport Convention and my grandfather were both really inspiring.
Any other artists you would like to recommend that you don’t feel are getting deserved attention?
Kacy and Clayton, Erin Rae, Kaia Kater, Logan Ledger, Zephaniah OHora…
And finally, if your music was a tree what would it be?
A Weeping Willow that also bears delicious neon fruit.