The first few lines of Katie Dobbins new CD, “She is Free,” pretty much sums up the existence of many of us, where the expectations are high — professionally, personally or both — and it’s very easy to lose direction when you’re busy trying to make things look perfect.
“Something To Be Found,” the first single, shines a light on a 25-year old woman with two degrees, a busy job, a loving family and the weight of the world on her shoulders. Something is missing, some crucial element of fulfillment has been neglected for much too long.
Ah, the music. “She’s begging me to come back home.”
Dobbins comes from the Lakes Region but lives and teaches in the Boston area. She writes about the little things, those rare “Post It Notes” left on the refrigerator in the early morning hours, that, until I heard heard her sing that song, hadn’t realized how much I miss a note in the morning.
Even the ones that read, “I’m leaving you…again.”
The songwriters vibe is solid with some country, a touch of pop, jazz, but mostly Dobbins sings straight up ballads. The record is very well produced and backed with banjos, horns, cello, violin, steel and drums. The Music Makers are in full force, and the harmonies with Dan Holden stick like glue.
“Bring On The Fire” has a nice jazzy layout with Dobbins singing about tempting the flame, even when you know you’re about to get burned. She don’t care, neither does the characters in the song. “I’d rather burn alive than be too afraid to fall.”
In the song, a rebel from down south is told that only whites drink water from the tap around here. The man was having none of that. He lays down a glass anyways and ends up shackled and chained for it. But the man won’t quit on drinking the water, which tastes like fire. He’d do it again and again and again for the sake of equality.
“Daddy’s Song” is every father’s dream, a daughter coming clean, thanking him for never quitting on her or her dreams. Family is important to Dobbins, obvious as she sings an ode to her grandmother on “Cards On A Tuesday” with the gift of togetherness at full blast with a piano just waiting to be played.
Finishing off the CD, which you can hear Dobbins sing at the Pitman’s Freight Room on August 18th, is “Marry You,” a storybook jaunt down a wedding aisle proceeded by a life of domestic bliss. Most wouldn’t dare ruminate over such fantasies, but Dobbins innocence forces you to stick with it, even when you know it’s just a pipe dream.
Good clean fun is what you are going to get off this CD. Dobbins has a nice spirit about her, an earnestness that glows, that believes in love and family, no matter the odds. Her strongest songs, to me, were the upbeat ones, where the horns and strings and subject matter rise to a new level, outside the sticky sweet love songs.
Expectations are indeed high in this game of life, but Dobbins seems ready to meet them head on.
Rob Azevedo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org