When I found out that Kimberly Freeman was releasing a new solo record, I was ecstatic. If you’ve ever seen Kimberly perform with One-Eyed Doll, you know that she is a creative genius and a force to be reckoned with.
I’ve always found Freeman’s ability to use minor sounding chord progressions absolutely spell-inducing. There is a passion behind what she does that is certainly not easy to find in today’s modern pop music landscape. The new record, Secret Lullaby, is one that was hotly anticipated and hyped by Kimberly and offered fans all kinds of cool incentives and packages when pre-ordering. So does the music live up to the great job Freeman is known for doing? Let me break it down in the most concise way I possibly can.
Opening with the debut single from the album, “Rust”, the enchanting yet dark guitar line draws the listener in. That haunting and beautiful voice of hers leads us into “The Thief” where the line “I’m afraid of dying, oh, secretly...but oh….I’m so tired of crying...oh, what’s become of me”, is one that so many of us can relate to. “Amnesia” gives us some more of the guitar and piano doubling effects that make this album haunting and beautiful at the same time. There’s that phrase again.
When “To Love A Soldier” begins, I found myself mentally whisked off into the depths of what could be a chilling movie score. Coming from a lover of great movie music like myself, that is one of the greatest compliments I can give. I’m not going to lie, when I read the title “Cream and Sugar”, I was instantly intrigued because when I used to drink coffee, that’s how I took my coffee. “Oh in my dreams, I am flying away, away from these dying walls…Warm that up for ya hun, do you take cream and sugar?” The hope in the song is only eclipsed by the despair that Freeman manages to convey about working a job that stretches us so far away from our dreams, and she does it brilliantly. “White Dress Princess” sees Kimberly continuing on the path toward the seeking of fulfillment from avenues that traditionally are supposed to bring us only happiness, but don’t.
The use of the acoustic guitar on “Lions and Lillies” matches perfectly with Freeman’s voice and lulls you into what seems to be a lullaby indeed, with it’s lovely melodic lines and the absence of lyrics. A rare instrumental gem from someone who is so gifted with lyrics.
“Child of Yesterday” continues the musical journey, and by the time I got to “Journey of Art”, the sombre mood had returned once again, much to this reviewer’s delight. There are very few artists that have the gift that Kimberly Freeman does. Many will sing about melancholic themes, but they are doing just that - singing about them. Freeman seems to convey an authentic connection to her music that makes it easy to feel whatever emotion she is experiencing. She doesn’t seem to “just sing” - she feels, and she makes you feel it too.
“Hoof Horn Tooth Claw” brings the listener into what seems to be a confusing encounter with some kind of beast. Freeman sets up the tension right from the first note, and it plays out much like a Shakespearean dream tonally speaking.
“Enchantment” reminds me of why I love Freeman’s work so much: her ability to create a narrative that draws her listeners into what seems to be a magical world that we may never understand all alone, but with her help we feel less alone. “Our world began to quake and smoke…..” feels just as comforting as “Oh enchantment, the land of the serpent…..” even though the words don’t seem to suggest that they should. This conundrum is what best defines Kimberly Freeman’s work for me. I feel comforted by some of the most uncomfortable of lyrics, because they make me feel less alone in this crazy world of ours.
The clever use of marimba sounds at the beginning of “Chocolate For Blood”, followed by what I can only liken to a tribal percussion, interspersed with xylophone, and melodic vocal lines, made me feel like I was a character in one of my favourite childhood books, Where The Wild Things Are. Again, a magical aural space that only Freeman can construct so masterfully.
“The Missing Link” feels as though it would be just as “at home” on a sophisticated poolside playlist as it would on a modern motion picture soundtrack. By the time I got to the title track, “Secret Lullaby”, I felt as though I had been allowed into a very special place in Freeman’s creative mind. She was not only a gracious and hospitable guest, but a very interesting person to have spent the time with.
Can you imagine being on a crazy voyage and adventure through all these magical landscapes with your best friend? Listening to Secret Lullaby is exactly like that. By the time you are done listening, you are happy, feel enlightened, have grown as a human being, and are terribly sad that you must say goodbye to your friend. I felt deep in within my heart that when “Secret Lullaby” was over, Freeman had let go of my hand and had whispered into my ear, “May your stories never end.”
Secret Lullaby is a triumphant adventure into the sonic and creative abilities of a true artist who has allowed us into her world. Do yourself a favour and grab onto Kimberly Freeman’s hand as she motions for you to join her through this absolutely beautifully created record.
Kimberly Freeman is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, entrepreneur, and jill of all trades. Originally from Austin, TX, Freeman is most well known as the front woman and guitarist for rock band One-Eyed Doll, where she has been featured as one of Guitar Player Magazine’s ‘Top 20 Most Extraordinary Female Guitarists,’ and one of Revolver Magazine’s ‘Top 5 Most Influential Women In Rock.’ Working her way up from creating handmade merchandise out of necessity (which she still happily does for dedicated fans), Freeman also creates unique and original handmade charms, perfumes, clothing items and more, available at Kimberly’s Magical Charms. Her solo efforts pay tribute to her commanding, yet sensual voice, while allowing her to explore wider musical territories.