Sydney Festival Review: Dori Freeman – St. Stephen’s Uniting Church (28.01.17)

Performing at St. Stephen’s Uniting Church on Saturday night, Dori Freeman‘s set offered the perfect mix of her own country tunes along with a wonderful selection of country, Americana and gospel classics.

Accompanied by her new husband Nick Fall on percussion and vocals, Dori Freeman’s show well and truly supported the buzz hailing her as one of country music’s finest new additions. At just twenty five years old, Dori emerged last year with a stunning self titled album that has immense soul and depth, reflecting the musical influences of her upbringing in the southwestern hills of Virginia.

Across the set, Dori Freeman proved that she has mastered that beautiful lilt and heart of old country and blues, singing songs in a way that had the packed out church utterly awe struck. Joking a few times across the set about how, “cheerful” the songs that she is drawn to are – it was however certainly easy to see why she plays so many sad, introspective numbers, delivering them with such incredible skill that it brought the likes of Gillian Welch and Lucinda Williams to mind.

Amongst the more despondent of her old country tunes was her new song “Go On Loving”, sharing with the crowd that she hopes to record and send the track to the unwell country great Loretta Lynn. “Today”, by one of Dori’s major influences The Louvin Brothers, served as a highlight of the night, with the song being performed as a duet with Nick Fall; and perhaps one of most moving songs was her own song about heartbreak from her debut album, titled, “Where I Stood”.

Showing an incredible passion and respect for the old country, blues and gospel musicians that precede her, Dori also worked in tunes by the likes of the Carter family, Doc Watson and even a song by her very own Grandfather titled, “Ern and Zory’s Sneakin’ Bitin’ Dog”- a title and accompanying lyrics that received chuckles from the audience about a dog that her grandfather had battles with growing up in Kentucky.

In addition to this, Dori added in new songs that she told the crowd she hopes to record in New York a few weeks from now for an album to be released later in the year. Such tracks included “Just Say it Now” and “Lovers on the Run”, with both songs reinforcing her incredible talent for writing raw, soulful old country tunes.

With other highlights including “Tell Me” and the newly penned love song, “Turtle Dove”, this was a stunning performance and a wonderful addition to the Sydney Festival line up. There can be no doubt that next time Dori Freeman plays here in Australia she will be performing to an even larger and ever growing audience.

Dori Freeman returns to Australia in March. This was her only Sydney Festival appearance.

Friday 9 – 11 March – Port Fairy Folk Festival, Port Fairy Vic
Wednesday 15 March – Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh Vic
Thursday 16 March – Northcote Social Club Northcote Vic

Photo Credit: Zeno Gill