...but don't tell her I called her that.
As a lifelong, self proclaimed “Country Music Disliker” (couldn’t go as far as to say “hater”…I mean, who doesn’t love Garth Brooks a little bit?), I have generally avoided the genre. There are no country stations on my car presets, I haven’t ever been to a country concert, and I can’t remember the last full country music album I purchased (when was The Hits: Garth Brooks released??). But Allison Moorer showed me what I was missing by ruling out anything with “country” in the genre field on iTunes.
I mean, she didn’t actually call me up and say “Be more open minded, ass!”, but she may as well have.
Allison Moorer’s newest album, Crows, may be classified as “country,” but I’m classifying it as “amazing.” I’m typically a music first, lyrics later person, and it’s easy to fall in love with this album on sound alone. Other reviews have called Moorer’s style “haunting,” and I can’t, despite my time in the thesaurus, come up with a more appropriate word to describe the feel of the album. Crows has a haunted, almost afflicted feel to it—when you listen, you feel like you need to listen harder, or more intently somehow, to be sure you can take it all in. Her sound is full and at times, pleasantly complex. This is an excellent nighttime road trip album, but wouldn’t be the best “listen to in your cubical” album. The melodies take some unexpected turns, which keep you interested, and listening to it at any muted volume isn’t going to do it justice.
But although she won me over with the music, her lyrics aren’t to be ignored. Moorer is tricky—for example, “Broken Girl” has a free, happy, summer sound, but the lyrics are serious business. “Storms gather in her head sometimes/all the sun is pushed aside/by the clouds that creep into her mind… ”…Moorer communicates (beautifully) the struggle of a tormented girl who does her best to seem peppy and upbeat.
The album has many of these moments where you feel like you’ve uncovered a little secret. “Should I be Concerned” sounds just bluesy enough that it could be a number one single from Alicia Keys. “When You Wake Up Feeling Bad” has the makings of an excellent sing-along-in-the car song, and has those lyrics that will make every listener think “Mmhmm…I know that feeling,” (or something like that…I may be the only one who actually thinks in terms of “Mmhmm” and “Nuh uh”.) I’m hesitant to even name a favorite, as each track has “favorite” potential—even “The Stars and I,” which has a little more twang than I’m generally comfortable with.
So overall, thank you, Allison Moorer, for showing me that “country” is more than twang, boots and leaving your lover down in Texas. I thoroughly enjoyed this album—several tracks are already making their way up my Top 25 Most Played playlist. It’s a must have!