MARCH 2010 COVER STORY – Allison Moorer Delivers and Receives The Message On ‘Crows’

Born in a small Alabama town, singer songwriter Allison Moorer has had music in her blood since the day she was born.

Like many in the country genre, not to mention her musician sister Shelby Lynne, Moorer found herself in Nashville looking to make her way in the industry after graduating from the University of South Alabama.

Moorer earned some work as a studio backing vocalist and formed a songwriting partnership with musician and future husband Butch Primm (the two were divoced in 2005, and she is now married to country legend Steve Earle). Primm and Moorer went on to sign a publishing deal, and soon thereafter, Moorer signed to MCA Nashville for a recording deal.

Her song “A Soft Place to Fall” (co-written by Gwil Owen) earned a spot on the soundtrack for the film “The Horse Whisperer,” and Moorer was on her way. The beautiful songstress’ debut album, Alabama Song was released in 1998, and she has issued eight albums since. Now, the Grammy and Academy Award-nominated musician is embarking on the release of her ninth album, simply titled Crows(Rykodisc Records).

In the press release for the new Moorer album, it stated, “Allison Moorer has decided to mix things up a bit shifting to the left of her usual ‘new country.’” When asked how she would sum up this statement about her new album, Moorer bluntly offered up this advice: “The first thing I would tell them is that I have never been ‘new country,’ so there is no way I could shift to the left of that. Then I would tell them to find the wanker that described it as that and ask them to explain it because I can’t.”

As most fans of Moorer know, she has never tried to follow any pattern, therefore making it hard for anyone to pigeonhole her varing styles of music. With this diversity, comes a freedom.

“I feel that being free is the only way to be if you want to make art that is ultimately satisfying to yourself.  And, I do think that you have to satisfy yourself, or you’re setting yourself up for heartbreak.”

The theme of being free also comes in the form of the simple title of her new album, Crows. However, being free as a bird is not the sole message to the album, it is actually about the messages themselves.

“The album title is significant in that I think birds are our messengers, and this album is full of messages – those that I’ve received, and those that I’m sending,” she said.

It’s been four years since Moorer has released a studio album of new material. In 2008, she offered up a spectacular covers album aptly titled Mockingbird, an album that was a learning experience for the veteran musician.

Allison-Moorer-photoMockingbird definitely taught me a lot — and that’s why I made that record. I can’t put into words exactly the things that I learned, but I do know that I am more confident in my songs and my performing than I have ever been.”

Although more confident, Moorer continued to push herself like always when writing a new song.

“I always, always challenge myself, but I didn’t force myself to write if I didn’t feel like it. I let the songs develop very organically – I just tried to be prepared when lightning struck.”

Letting those songs develop benefitted Moorer when it came time to go into the recording studio. Crows was recorded in a mear four days, as Moorer confessed, “I’m always over-prepared when I go into the studio.”

With Crows marking the eighth album in the talented singer/songwriter’s career, Moorer will continue to impress her underground following. But somehow, over her 12-year stint in music, Moorer hasn’t broken out to be a huge mainstream success. But in typical Moorer fashion, she could care less.

“I’m happy to have the career that I have,” she said. “I’m happy to have any career in the ever-dwindling music business! I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to make seven albums — not many people get to do that. As long as they’ll have me, I’ll suit up and show up.”