It was bound to happen, maybe fans of Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer would have liked it to happen sooner, but the sisters’ first collaboration ‘Not Dark Yet’ is a beautiful testament to their musical and vocal talents.
Shelby and Allison have formed a reciprocal bond as sisters, yet have differing personalities and style. When it comes to their music, their intuition is spot on and unequalled. Since the sisters started releasing their solo albums in the late 1990s, they have amassed an impressive 24 albums between them, a Grammy, an Oscar nomination, and several other awards.
Born in the backwoods of Alabama, Shelby and Allison grew up singing along to records from their parent’s collection. ‘Not Dark Yet’ (Silver Cross Records / Thirty Tigers) is a small glimpse into those formative years. After discussing a project along these lines, Shelby and Allison took to the studio in Los Angeles during the summer of 2016 with producer Teddy Thompson at the controls. The girls handpicked a collection of songs they grew up on —The Louvin Brothers (“Every Time You Leave”), Bob Dylan (“Not Dark Yet”), Jessi Colter (“I’m Looking For Blue Eyes”), Townes Van Zandt (“Lungs”), Merle Haggard (“Silver Wings”), Nick Cave (“Into My Arms”). There are also a few surprises in the sequencing — the Killers (“My List”), Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires (“The Color of a Cloudy Day”), Nirvana (“Lithium”), and a brand new Shelby and Allison collaboration (“Is It Too Much”).
We sat down with Allison Moorer to talk about the new album, which is not a duets album, but more a celebration of sisterhood, music and two voices coming together.
Innocent Words: I am roughly the same age as you two. What were you like growing up in Alabama in the ’70s?
Allison Moorer: My sister and I grew up without many other kids around, so we were a tribe of two most of the time. We were much like we are today, never really childlike. We’re now growing younger by the day, like emotional Benjamin Buttons.
Innocent Words: Where these some of the songs you grew up on from your parents record collection?
Allison Moorer: A few. Obviously the Louvin Brothers cut, the Merle, and the Jessie.
Innocent Words: Going into this, how many songs were on the list to record?
Allison Moorer: It fluctuated a lot, we had as many as 25 or 26 at one point.
Innocent Words: Knowing your knowledge of music history, how did you choose the final cut?
Allison Moorer: We went with what sounded the best and what made the best collection of songs.
Innocent Words: The recording of the album feels very personal even though it’s a covers record. I like the raw feel of it, especially on Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet.” Was this the overall concept?
Allison Moorer: Yes, we intentionally kept it sparse and about the singing.
Allison Moorer: “I’m Looking for Blue Eyes,” was the very first song I learned to sing by myself. I wasn’t even considering it, but we were in the studio and Sissy [Shelby] suggested we do it, so I set into it and there it was.
Innocent Words: When did you sit down and write “Is It Too Much”?
Allison Moorer: We wrote “Is It Too Much,” last summer, just before we recorded.
Innocent Words: Was the Nirvana song “Lithium” a bit out of your comfort zone?
Allison Moorer: “Lithium,” was Sissy’s idea.
Innocent Words: The album has been done for a little while now and it won’t be released until August. Is it hard sitting on a record that long when you want to get it out to the fans?
Allison Moorer: We had to arrange the release for a time when it would work for everyone. Of course, we’ve wanted to get it out, but these things take time and rushing it out without the proper preparation wouldn’t have been the thing to do. We want to do as much touring as we can and I have a young son who makes that a little bit more challenging for me, so everything takes more time to plan.
‘Not Dark Yet’ Track Listing:
My List – The Killers
Every Time You Leave – The Louvin Brothers
Not Dark Yet – Bob Dylan
I’m Looking For Blue Eyes – Jessi Colter
Lungs – Townes Van Zandt
The Color of a Cloudy Day – Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires
Silver Wings – Merle Haggard
Into My Arms – Nick Cave
Lithium – Kurt Cobain
Is It Too Much – Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer
AUG 19 SAT City Winery – New York, NY
AUG 20 SUN City Winery – New York, NY
AUG 22 TUE The Sinclair – Cambridge, MA
AUG 25 FRI World Cafe Live – Philadelphia, PA
AUG 26 SAT Ram’s Head On Stage – Annapolis, MD
AUG 27 SUN The Birchmere – Alexandria, VA
AUG 30 WED City Winery – Chicago, IL
AUG 31 THU City Winery – Chicago, IL
SEP 1 FRI City Winery – Nashville, TN
SEP 2 SAT City Winery – Atlanta, GA