Allison Moorer The Hardest Part (MCA)

The Hardest Part (MCA)

Record Reviews

Allison Moorer

The Hardest Part (MCA)

For the past couple of years, Allison Moorer has been championed by critics as one of Nashville's new leading lights. The Alabama native (and sister of Shelby Lynne) possesses an attractive, sultry voice and the ability to write hard-hitting songs. Her music leans toward the traditional sound of country, yet with rock undertones -- a plus on the critics' side, but not one amongst radio programmers. Then again, on her second album, Moorer has deserted the radio camp and devised a song cycle that works on some levels and misses on a couple others. The concept is that of an arduous love affair complicated by the desire for independence as codependence lurks in the background. Each song is comparable to a novel, and Moorer sings from the heart on the opening title track, "Love is hard when love is so unkind." What follows is a wonderfully balanced combination of adult-leaning rock with a country flair; fiddles and banjos abound. Yet by the story's climax, Moorer has overreached. "No Next Time" dissolves into syrupy mess of strings and a duet of sorts with alt.country's Lonesome Bob, whose deep baritone grates against the Moorer's soulfulness. Taken in parts, The Hardest Part is filled with some of the strongest country music out of Nashville in quite a while. When considered as a whole, however, as Moorer requests, is it any less than a success?

****

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