Free to Go

Free to Go

by Donna Hopkins
     
 
The debut from Georgia (by way of Alabama) singer/songwriter/guitarist Donna Hopkins is a long-awaited effort from an artist well-known for her weekly live gigs in and around her Atlanta home base. Blues-rockers who read liner notes closely will recognize her name from two vocal contributions to Tinsley Ellis'

Overview

The debut from Georgia (by way of Alabama) singer/songwriter/guitarist Donna Hopkins is a long-awaited effort from an artist well-known for her weekly live gigs in and around her Atlanta home base. Blues-rockers who read liner notes closely will recognize her name from two vocal contributions to Tinsley Ellis' Hell or High Water 2002 release. But even Hopkins' fans would probably not expect her first album to be so well-produced and conceived. Shifting away from the barroom blues she plays live, Free to Go is a polished yet gutsy stab at Southern blue-eyed soul of the Bonnie Bramlett variety. Hopkins' tough, burnished voice has a Susan Tedeschi edge to it, but her music is more swampy, atmospheric, and diverse. The nearly seven-minute title track with its layered guitars, ominous organ, and oozing sensuality, is the album's centerpiece, but all of the tracks are as impressive. These songs aren't just blueprints, but fully formed, melodically mature statements about survival and growing up on the poor side of the tracks. Far from being overly sentimental, they exude a proud, hopeful assurance, helped immensely by Hopkins' natural, hardscrabble voice, and Bryan Cole's sympathetic production. Like The Band, these songs creep up on you, but the strong choruses, and Hopkins' emotionally charged presence, make them instantly likeable. With its bottleneck acoustic guitar and easily surging chorus, the album's first single, "Dirt Alabama Road," received some local airplay, and the Georgia Satellites/ Stonesy rocking of "U-Haul You Back" is a sure dancefloor filler. But it's the slower, less upbeat tunes, like "Everything Money Can't Buy," and the opening "Don't Ask Why," that are more impressive. The beautifully recorded sound is clean but not slick, especially for a low-budget, locally produced and distributed project. Even though the reprise of "Everything Money Can't Buy" -- sung as a duet with Hopkins' young daughter -- is a little cloying, the closing gospel-reggae of "I'll Fly Away" doesn't really mesh with the rest of the album, and the Hank Williams Sr. cover on which Hopkins' sings backup is extraneous, even as a bonus track. Free to Go proves that, even on her first album, Donna Hopkins is already focused and experienced enough to go big time.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/24/2004
Label:
Donna Hopkins
UPC:
0677516529921
catalogNumber:
2992

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Donna Hopkins   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals,Slide Guitar
Vassar Clements   Fiddle
Bryan Cole   Snare Drums
Steve Cunningham   Dobro,Lap Steel Guitar
Nick Longo   Saxophone
Yonrico Scott   Drums,Tabla,Hand Drums
Joseph Patrick Moore   Bass Guitar
John Longo   Saxophone
Luis Valle   Clay Flute
Barry Thrasher   Mandolin
Mark Van Allen   Dobro
Doug Smith   Background Vocals
Cindy Adler   Bass Guitar
Paw Paw "Tip" Barbie   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Chuck Bithorn   Conga,Tambourine,Shaker,cowbell,finger cymbals,Cabasa
Kevin Thomas   Hammond Organ,Wurlitzer
Diane Durrett   Background Vocals
Joe Burton   Trombone
India Hopkins   Background Vocals
Invisable Harmonic Angel Choir   Harp
Marcus Petruska   Drums

Technical Credits

Bryan Cole   Sound Effects,Producer
Hank Williams   Composer
Albert E. Brumley   Composer
Kirk West   Cover Photo
Robert Hannon   Engineer
John Holmes   Engineer
Donna Hopkins   Composer,Producer
Ron Currens   Liner Notes
Diane Durrett   Composer
India Hopkins   Artwork
Liz Melendez   Graphic Design

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