100 Greatest Women, #96: Allison Moorer

100 Greatest Women

#96

Allison Moorer

One of the definitive female artists of Americana music.

Allison Moorer was the second musical artist to emerge from her family, with an older sister who goes by the name Shelby Lynne preceding her in the industry by about a decade.

Moorer signed with MCA in the mid-nineties, and began to carve out an unconventional path to success. Her first single, “A Soft Place to Fall”, was placed in the movie The Horse Whisperer. Moorer found herself launching her career with a song in a major motion picture, and while radio never warmed to it (or any of her other singles), she scored an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song and performed it on the 1999 telecast.

While with MCA, she released two critically acclaimed albums – Alabama Song (1998) and Miss Fortune (2000.) She became a darling of the Americana scene with her understated vocals and carefully crafted lyrics, sealing the deal with her music video tribute to Americana godfather Gram Parsons, “Send Down an Angel.”

Much like Moorer unexpectedly found herself on the Oscar stage in 1999, she also scored a #4 pop hit in 2002. Kid Rock asked her to sing a duet with him on a song called “Picture”, after Sheryl Crow had turned him down. Crow, however, changed her mind, and recorded the song with Rock. The version with Kid Rock & Sheryl Crow was a massive pop hit, receiving widespread airplay on multiple formats. However, the CD single featured the version that Moorer had recorded, and fans looking for the hit version purchased enough CD singles to earn her a gold record and a trip to the top five of the Hot 100.

She left MCA to become a flagship artist for the new label Universal South, which released her album Duel (2004), before going indie and signing with Sugar Hill Records. Moorer married Steve Earle in 2005, touring with him across Europe and contributing vocals to his albums. A duet with Earle on his most recent album, Washington Square Serenade, brought Moorer to another milestone in her career: her first Grammy nomination. “Days Aren’t Long Enough” was nominated for Best Country Vocal Collaboration earlier this year; the married couple lost to Willie Nelson & Ray Price.

Currently, Moorer is promoting her newest album Mockingbird, her first for New Line Records. The set features covers of songs by other female singer/songwriters, such as June Carter Cash (“Ring of Fire”) and Jessi Colter (“I’m Looking For Blue Eyes.”)

Allison Moorer

Essential Singles

  • “A Soft Place to Fall” – 1998
  • “Alabama Song” – 1998
  • “Send Down an Angel” – 2000
  • “Picture” (with Kid Rock) – 2002
  • “Days Aren’t Long Enough” (with Steve Earle) – 2008

Essential Albums

  • Alabama Song (1998)
  • The Hardest Part (2000)
  • Miss Fortune (2002)
  • The Duel (2004)

==> #95. Sylvia

<== #97. Barbara Fairchild

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13 Comments

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13 Responses to 100 Greatest Women, #96: Allison Moorer

  1. LeeannNo Gravatar

    I’ve always loved both her and Shelby’s voices.,especially Shelby

  2. LeeannNo Gravatar

    Is her version with Kid Rock better than Sheryl Crow’s? I haven’t heard it.

  3. I dunno. I tried to find it on iTunes, but there aren’t any versions of the song available, not even in the Crow duet. Apparently Kid Rock hasn’t made his music available digitally. Who knew?

  4. LeeannNo Gravatar

    Too bad. I just don’t think I’m willing to buy an entire Kid Rock album to find out.

  5. Paul W DennisNo Gravatar

    I have the CD Single of Kid Rock and Allison Moorer singing “Picture” (one of the very few CD singles I’ve ever purchaseed) and prefer it to the Kid Rock Sheryl Crow version but both versions are pretty good

  6. DanNo Gravatar

    So glad to see her here. Props.

  7. J.T.

    Definitely try to find the version with Allison singing “Picture” with Kid Rock–it is way better then the Sheryl Crow version I think. The “Allison” version just sounds more country with lots of steel guitar and just has a gritter sound. Allison’s voice also just has a soulfulness that Sheryl just can’t match. When she sings the line “I haven’t heard from you in in 3 damn nights” she absolutely believes in every word.

    One song that I think is essential to Allison’s career is the hidden track “Sad Sad World” on “The Hardest Part” album. This true story of her mother & father is one of the most heartbreaking songs I have ever heard.

  8. Kevin,

    Loving this feature so far, and hope that Moorer’s inclusion means that the list will include some other non-mainstream artists.

    One technical point, though– Alabama Song and The Hardest Part were her two MCA albums, with Miss Fortune as her debut for Universal South and The Duel as her debut for Sugar Hill.

    If asked to name the 10 best country albums of the 2000s thus far, I’d be hard pressed not to include both The Hardest Part and The Duel. When Moorer’s on, she’s just flat-out brilliant. I’d also include “All Aboard” as one of her essential singles. It’s something of a broadside (see also: “American Idiot,” which is hardly bad company to keep), but I absolutely respect the fact that she released an open lament against political groupthink at a time that happened to be both the peak of country radio’s post-9/11 reactionary phase and the last possible juncture at which she was still an outside threat to break into the big leagues. Had the mainstream ever paid as much attention to Moorer as it should have, it would’ve been her one-way ticket to The Island of Misfit Toys with the Dixie Chicks and Steve Earle. Her instincts aren’t always right (Getting Somewhere is not good at all), but Moorer’s pretty fearless as an artist, so it’s nice to see her mentioned here.

  9. LeeannNo Gravatar

    I forgot about “Send Down An Angel.” I love it!
    Jonathan–
    I bought “All Aboard” off Amazon today, as per your suggestion, and I enjoy it. I’ll have to get used to the production though.

  10. LynnNo Gravatar

    Thanks Jonathan for the insight. I love a free-thinking and talented woman!

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  12. HorseflyNo Gravatar

    I’ve followed Allison’s career since the Academy Awards which knocked me off my chair. Her best CD was ‘The Hardest Part’ and if you are fans, it is a must for your collections. I compare all of her discs to that collection. Her duets with Lonesome Bob are also must haves.

  13. DerekNo Gravatar

    I wouldn’t worry too much about whose version of “Picture” is better. It’s a pretty rotten song no matter who sings it.

    I have to echo the posters who note “The Hardest Part” is Allison’s best album. It took me 2 or 3 spins to get into it, but it is absolutely brilliant. I wish people could have seen her shows when she toured for it. I still get chills thinking about it. Her later albums contain some good music, but she peaked with THP.

    With respect to the production qualities of “All Aboard”, please note that the album it came off (“The Duel”) has a grittier, more snarly sound than her other albums (it especially contrasts with the fluffy “Getting Somewhere”). Personally, I’m not a fan of “All Aboard” and suggest you check out “No Next Time” off “The Hardest Part” if you want to see what she can really do.

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