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Wednesday April 23, 2014
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Allison Moorer

 

continued

— well, maybe two if I asked real nice or coughed real hard — warmed my chest and made the room look better, as proper music should.

Since her 1998 debut album, Alabama Song, Nashville's sultriest crooner-songwriter has been busy trying to figure out how to navigate the topiary maze that is commercial country music. When an album as gorgeous as that one sells only about 57,000 copies nationwide, all bets are off in the logic department. Her latest effort, Miss Fortune, is just more evidence of Moorer's prodigious talents as a writer and singer of cool, literate, soulful southern songs. This one's gussied up with a surfeit of strings, brass, and choruses of angels, but they're not too bothersome.

Drinking, traveling, gambling, loving and losing — it's all here in spades. Of note is the spare, sad "Can't Let Go" — not remotely the same song as the Lucinda Williams rocker of the same name. Unadorned language, simple melody, universal truth: all you need. But don't get too contemplative. Up next is the raucous storysong "Ruby June," full-up with child prostitution, rape, murder, and a hangin'.

"Up This High" is the album's nod to the gods of radio, but it still manages to keep its integrity intact. Moorer kicks it out in "I'm Going Down," the vocals mixed way back like a banshee's echo.

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