Honey-haired Allison Moorer follows her sister Shelby Lynne's lead for a set of mostly covers. While Lynne feted only Dusty Springfield, Moorer's sixth album features material by women celebrating their strength. The premise allows Mrs. Steve Earle a wide berth to explore a sweep of styles and emotions, choosing tunes from the unlikely combination of Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell, Ma Rainey, and Chan Marshall. As with her past work, the real attraction is Moorer's voice, an instrument that's muscular yet distinctively dulcet as well. Nina Simone's "I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl" and Rainey's "Daddy, Goodbye Blues" are exceptionally effective for a singer whose work has long tilted toward country. With only one self-penned song, the title track, Moorer's songwriting career is seemingly on hold. The effortless Mockingbird proves she doesn't need to write to make music that's all her own. (Allison Moorer opens for hubby Steve Earle at the Paramount Theatre, Sunday, April 27.)
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