Allison Moorer

Mockingbird – 2008 (New Line)

Reviewed by Julie Drysdale

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CDs by Allison Moorer

Labeling this merely a covers album is selling the talented Allison Moorer short; this Buddy Miller-produced collection of interpreted songs is both a respectful tribute to the female songwriting genre and a testament to Moore's own vocal prowess.

A gifted songwriter herself - the self-penned title track is among the best on the disc - the song selections reflect Moorer's own eclectic influences, ranging from Ma Rainey to Patti Smith to Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power). The themes of feminine strength and redemption are clear throughout. The only minor letdown is Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now"; while a Mitchell track certainly belongs in any tribute to female songwriters, a more inspired choice would have fit better here.

Moorer's voice is as rich as it is heartbreakingly tender, particularly on tracks such as sister Shelby Lynne's "She Knows Where She Goes" and June Carter Cash's "Ring of Fire". Moorer alternately smolders (Jessi Colter's "I'm Looking for Blue Eyes"), stomps (Patti Smith's "Dancing Barefoot") and swings (Nina Simone's "I Want A Little Sugar in My Bowl") her way through this disc; it's a fine addition to an already accomplished discography and a showcase for the talents of this soulful songstress.