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Album Review

Allison Moorer, 'Crows'

February 1, 2010

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For most of her career, Allison Moorer has been the scorned country siren, infusing her tales of heartbreak with a healthy dose of twang. “Crows’’ is both a sonic and thematic departure. There is still plenty of heartbreak, but the characters Moorer inhabits here are stronger, more stoic; they don’t wonder why they’re alone as much as what they’re going to do about it. The narrator in “Should I Be Concerned’’ is confronting herself as much as her lover, and Moorer delivers a stunning vocal performance, backed by a slow-burning piano and strings arrangement as dramatic as Janis Joplin’s “Summertime.’’ The toe-tapping, almost Ronnie Spector-like pop tune “The Broken Girl’’ is about suffering in silence (“She’ll never say a word / She’s a broken girl’’). Even “Easy in the Summertime’’ is less nostalgia for a carefree childhood than a reflection from a place of strength. The title track could easily have been “It’s Gonna Feel Good (When It Stops Hurting),’’ but the song “Crows’’ is the postscript to that narrative, long after the hurting is a rainy-day memory. Covering the likes of Joni Mitchell, Patti Smith, and Nina Simone on last year’s “Mockingbird’’ seems to have rubbed off on her. “Crows’’ is a striking album. (Out Feb. 9) NICK A. ZAINO III

Pop
Allison Moorer Crows
RykoDisc
ESSENTIAL “The Broken Girl’’