Album Reviews

Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer

Not Dark Yet

Artist:     Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer

Album:     Not Dark Yet

Label:     Silver Cross / Thirty Tigers

Release Date:     08.18.2017


The beauty these sisters share radiates from places far beyond the depth of their skin. Singing in divine voices was the way Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer expressed themselves from early childhood forward. Raised in the backwoods of Alabama, their teenage lives took on Southern Gothic shadows when their father killed their mother, then himself. Natural Southern allure is one thing, and voices that are among the most real you’ll hear, another yet. But, a lifetime of truths—from brutal to sublime—certainly tints every performance on Lynne and Moorer’s luminous Not Dark Yet. With some two dozen albums and numerous awards between them, the new Teddy Thompson-produced album is their first together. And together is the operative word.

The eclectic mix of songs—one each from Dylan, the Louvin Brothers, Jessi Colter, Townes Van Zan Zandt, Merle Haggard, Jason Isbell, Nick Cave, the Killers, Nirvana, and Lynne herself—features two subtly distinct voices as a single force. Their creamy, rosy tones profoundly affect everything to the point of ownership. Take “My List,” by The Killers. Trading verses as they go, Moorer and Lynne work the song up into a lush, no frills masterpiece of infatuation and love. In other words, they kill it. Despite the disparate selection of material, the set flows charmingly by the backing of a small group of highly talented players. Petty’s Heartbreaker Benmont Tench, in particular, stands out on piano. In the tranquil, but gut-wrenching country of the Louvins’ “Every Time You Leave,” his notes ring dully like teardrops on a window pane while the ladies caress the bottom of your heart. Dylan’s title song marches lazily to the edge, as does a strange, highly addicting take on Nirvana’s “Lithium”—albeit by way of quite a different dosage. They take Jason Isbell’s “The Color of a Cloudy Day” to heaven glowing, and plead like prisoners of love in a trippy cover of Colter’s “I’m Looking for Blue Eyes.” Moorer sings “I don’t believe in the existence of angels” as they transform Cave’s “Into My Arms” into an incredible thing to behold.

This album proves the existence of angels.

—Tom Clarke

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