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Album review: Allison Moorer's 'Crows'

February 8, 2010 |  5:34 pm

Alison_moorer_240_ An album named for a creature often viewed as a harbinger of doom given to a batch of songs more than half of which are written in minor keys promises some heavy emotional going. And on "Crows," Alabama-born singer and songwriter Allison Moorer's first collection of original material in four years, she's wrestling with how to find some sort of acceptance of life's dark side.

Moorer and big sister Shelby Lynne were orphaned as children when their father killed their mother and then himself.

Her honesty in exploring the underpinnings of depression reveal the potential for liberation in facing one's demons. That process allows her to truly savor the sweet moments she celebrates in "Easy in the Summertime," a reverie of youth that quickly transcends the stock-image concoctions so common in contemporary country music.

Moorer and producer R.S. Field go for sonic atmospherics that ideally frame her songs, from a Chris Isaak-like down-in-the-tunnel-of-broken-love grandeur for "Goodbye to the Ground" to the flamenco-folk drama of "Just Another Fool." "The Stars and I (Mama's Song)" is a poetically compact expression of love, a powerful hymn carried aloft on a simple three-chord progression.

In the one song on the album she didn't write -- one composed by Field -- she sings "It's Gonna Feel Good (When It Stops Hurting)." Wringing beauty from her pain, Moorer creates music that illustrates an age-old truism: Without sorrow, there is no joy. 

-- Randy Lewis 

Allison Moorer
 Three and a half stars (Out of four)