Allison Moorer is someone who has been through things that most artists could never contemplate. When Moorer was 14 years old, her father shot and killed her mother before taking his own life, and that sort of baggage is something no one fully escapes. Unsurprisingly, Moorer is no stranger to dark themes in her music, but she doesn't wallow in tragedy, and her songs search for a light rather than obsessing on the shadows. Her 2019 album Blood is a musical companion to her memoir, published the same year, that deals with the tragedy that left a mark on her childhood and how she and her older sister (fellow musician Shelby Lynne) struggled to make peace with it. One might expect Blood to be a grand musical statement, given its overriding themes, but that's not the case, and that works to the advantage of the music, which is intimate and immediate, allowing Moorer's vocals to take center stage. The gentle passion of her clear, soulful voice has never failed to impress, and Blood finds her in excellent form, communicating pain and resilience without grandstanding, and telling her stories with honesty and dignity. Moorer and producer/multi-instrumentalist Kenny Greenberg have given the songs arrangements that complement their emotions but don't get their way, and the churchy power of "Heal," the Appalachian simplicity of "Cold Cold Earth," and the elemental rock & roll of "The Rock and the Hill" mesh with Moorer's lyrics and vocals in a way that seems too intuitive to be artful but is too well executed to be anything else. Blood may have been written and recorded as a companion piece to Moorer's book, but the work is powerful and eloquent, and stands on its own as a vital addition to the catalog of a talent who deserves and demands greater recognition.
by Mark Deming