Allison Moorer's talent is so obvious, the strength of her conviction so apparent, that you wind up doubting if she's really as good as she sounds. Strangely enough, Moorer's older sister Shelby Lynne moved away from Nashv... more »ille and emerged with one of the surprise hits of 2000, the Southern soul-drenched I Am Shelby Lynne. Moorer, on the other hand, stayed in Nashville, took control of the artistic reins, and emerged with a sophomore effort on a major country label that is in many ways similar to and nearly as varied as her sister's breakthrough. "It's Time I Tried," for one, is deep Muscle Shoals soul while "Think It Over" could be a Pretenders song. The buried finale is a haunting Southern gothic ballad. Mix in a few bluegrass inflections here, some countrypolitan there, and infuse it all with classic honky-tonk misery, and it's clear that Moorer will not be tied down to any genre designation, Nashville or not. Her sumptuous voice not only packs a punch, but it can also bob and weave to great effect as she sings about love's many entanglements. Consider that she not only coproduced the album but also cowrote each tune, and any doubts about her talents begin to vanish. --Marc Greilsamer« less
Allison Moorer's talent is so obvious, the strength of her conviction so apparent, that you wind up doubting if she's really as good as she sounds. Strangely enough, Moorer's older sister Shelby Lynne moved away from Nashville and emerged with one of the surprise hits of 2000, the Southern soul-drenched I Am Shelby Lynne. Moorer, on the other hand, stayed in Nashville, took control of the artistic reins, and emerged with a sophomore effort on a major country label that is in many ways similar to and nearly as varied as her sister's breakthrough. "It's Time I Tried," for one, is deep Muscle Shoals soul while "Think It Over" could be a Pretenders song. The buried finale is a haunting Southern gothic ballad. Mix in a few bluegrass inflections here, some countrypolitan there, and infuse it all with classic honky-tonk misery, and it's clear that Moorer will not be tied down to any genre designation, Nashville or not. Her sumptuous voice not only packs a punch, but it can also bob and weave to great effect as she sings about love's many entanglements. Consider that she not only coproduced the album but also cowrote each tune, and any doubts about her talents begin to vanish. --Marc Greilsamer
Phillip Garner | Winston-Salem, NC USA | 09/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Allison Moorer's "The Hardest Part" is the real thing. Following up on her critically acclaimed (but largely publically ignored)"Alabama Song" Moorer has put together a collection of songs that tell the story of true love. You won't find the country mainstream theme of "I love you, you love me, we'll live happily ever after" but rather the ins and outs of real live true love. She is very convincing as she dares her ex to say he's sorry just once more in "No Next Time" and in the title track where the line between living and leaving is beautifully blurred. But it's the hidden track where we see Moorer truly reveal her heart as she tells of her parent's tragic relationship. Shania and Faith fans should pass on this one. But if you're hungry for some real country music from a real country diva then you'll really enjoy this new album by Allison Moorer. The hardest part about "The Hardest Part" is turning off the cotton picking CD player ........... it's that good!"
The harrowing part
Brian D. Rubendall | Oakton, VA | 11/17/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Life is Hard When Love is So Unkind." Those lyrics are the mantra of Allison Moorer's album "The Hardest Part." Moorer is a country music traditionlist as reflected by her songs. She has a strong, throaty voice, reminiscent of the finest blues belters. And her songs are not the happy Nashville fluff of such lightweights as Faith Hill and Shania Twain. Moorer sounds like she's been down that long lonely road of heartbreak and pain. The best songs are the opening title track, "Day You Said Goodbye," "No Next Time" and the hidden closing track, a bleak murder-suicide story that is as harrowing as anything I've ever heard. For fans of genuine country music, Moorer is the real deal."
THE SOULFUL HEART OF COUNTRY
J. C. Bailey | East Sussex United Kingdom | 05/18/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first discovered Allison Moorer on a sampler of the "Now That's What I Call the 40 Greatest Country Hits In The World Ever" type. She was singing "A Soft Place To Fall", sadly remembered by most people only as 'that song from The Horse Whisperer', but actually one of the finest American songs of the decade. However great the song, it was the voice that snared me. She has the flawless control and faithfulness to meaning of a classical lieder singer, coupled with the heartfelt sincerity of a singer-songwriter, the raw tenderness that belongs to the best of country & western, and the sensuality of a soul diva.Allison's great blessing is that she sings in a quite limited contralto range that has never tempted her to pointless histrionics - none of the shrieking or swooping or yodelling that make some singers so exhausting to listen to. She doesn't need these gimmicks. She writes (or co-writes) fantastic memorable tunes with meaningful lyrics, and in performance she is able to wring every last ounce of meaning out of every word. "The Hardest Part" is Allison's second album. The first was fairly conventional country rock of a uniformly excellent quality, but it was only a taster for the journeyman effort. Not so much a concept album (yech!) as a Song Cycle, we are given 10 or possibly 11 thematically connected songs charting the breakdown and tragic aftermath of a relationship probably inspired by her parents' fatal marriage.The title track, a comfortable country quickstep (probably to reassure listeners in preparation for the more eclectic styling of later songs) gives you the moral: "children say that words can never harm you, only sticks and stones can make you cry" ... and you know intuitively that the album is going to be about the damage that words can do in real life.The final uncredited track tells the stripped down, harrowing account of the outcome: An estranged husband goes mad with loneliness. He visits his abused wife pleading for forgiveness and reconciliation. When his pleas are rejected he kills her and then turns the gun on himself, leaving two young daughters as orphans. That much is family history.In between the moral and the denouement we are offered nine songs of uniformly high quality, ranging from the laid-back semi-pop groove of "It's Time I Tried" to the electric guitar-driven rock of "Think It Over" or the pure country waltz of "Feeling That Feeling Again". But of course it's all Country really. Allison Moorer is pure Nashville TN. Sure she's one of the boldest of the new country brigade in assimilating fresh influences and keeping Country alive for the new millennium, but the classic twang comes through in every bar.The stand-out track is "No Next Time", a delicious slow-building ballad featuring a climactic duet with Lonesome Bob, whose deep brown voice seems to come out of the ground. After all the heroine's questioning of her lover and herself during the earlier song, this one marks her realisation that his words after each betrayal("I didn't mean to make you cry, I apologise...there'll be no next time") have become no more than a repeated ritual. The penultimate track tells beautifully of her surprise on meeting him again to find that she is still in love, even as she accepts that there is no going back. And that is where the song fades into the album's sombre finale.Just one minor criticism: It's barely long enough. Even with the hidden track it's not much more than 45 minutes, and that's only by stretching things out with a couple of minutes of unnecessary guitar solos. It could be half as long again without dragging. On the other hand, the album says everything it needs to say with unrivalled expertise, style and grace. Anything more would probably have spoiled the pudding. It's hard to see how you could go wrong buying this. Even with such downbeat subject matter the end result is uplifting. I go in phases listening to pop, rock, symphonies, opera, jazz, folk and country, but it's years since I listened to a new album so many times over."
Send down an angel
kabondurant | Big Sky MT USA | 09/29/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although I have read a few interviews with Allison Moorer, I had never heard her sing a note before buying this album. A quick cruise through her pinup calendar of a website and you might be convinced she is another creation that only a record label could love. "The Hardest Part" reveals this to be an unfair conclusion, however. Somewhere between commercial Nashville and alt-country is where this music resides, wrapped in honesty and topnotch musicianship. It is, thankfully, never earnest. Ostensibly a concept album, the story is a ticking timeline of a dying relationship. This subject matter is hardly new ground but it is universal, and Moorer keeps it interesting. I like this record, especially because every song is written by Moorer and her husband - no Henry Ford school of songwriting here! It is sometimes difficult to keep separate the beauty of a singer with the beauty of a song; the former invariably colors the latter, I think. But Moorer's voice is excellent, all longing and truth and Alabama rawbone. Listen to this record completely, in sequence, by yourself, and you will feel intimacy. And stick around for the uncredited extra track, which packs an emotional punch that makes Johnny Cash murder-ballads like "Delia's Gone" sound like the Starlight Vocal Band."
C. Hsu | Los Angeles, CA USA | 02/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I caught Allison Moorer on CNN late at night. She played "Send Down an Angel" on the guitar and it was truly moving and emotional. Promptly, I purchased the album and was pleasantly surprised to find the music as rich and personal as the solo performance. She has an amazing knack for expressing the simple truths that keep you up at night, just thinking. Found myself wondering, "What is she trying to say here?" and then, after a few times through the CD, "Oh, I get it; that's so true..." I rarely listen to country, but absolutely love this album. So, at the risk of being a "pop country" enthusiast, I would say that this music transcends all genres; that is, I can't imagine ANYONE not enjoying this album."