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Allison Moorer

Blood – 2019 (Autotelic Records)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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CDs by Allison Moorer

Allison Moorer's new disc, billed as a "companion piece" to her recently published memoir of the same title, stands powerfully as a "musical memoir" on its own. Moorer is a gifted singer and songwriter, but the book and album tell a real-life story that she has struggled for more than three decades to come to grips with.

Tragedy struck Moorer at the age of 14 when her father, Franklin Moorer, a musician and alcoholic with abusive tendencies, shot his wife Lynn (the girls' mother) and then turned the gun on himself. Moorer has credited a conversation with the late Maya Angelou as a turning point leading to her finally being able to process and express the trauma and anguish into the context of her music and artistry. It may have taken more than three decades, but the result is an album of stunning impact.

It probably should be noted that the title - both the book and the album's title track - are not indicative literally of the scene that greeted the teenage Allison on that terrible morning, she's using "blood" here in the metaphorical sense of family, the people who bring us into the world and shape who and what we become.

Rather than indulge in recriminations or pathos, Moorer seeks to understand and reflect on all the aspects of character, positive and negative, that drove her father to make his daughters orphans. Each of the 10 tracks are deeply poignant, none more so than "I'm The One To Blame," made that much more striking by the fact that it was written by her father and sister.

Produced by Kenny Greenberg, the arrangements are beautifully sympathetic to the material and tone, in several cases featuring not much more than Moorer backing herself up on guitar, and she demonstrates once again that, whether she's labelled country, pop, "Americana" or anything else, she's got one of the most expressive and compelling voices in the business. "Blood" is a piece of musical art that invites repeated listening and contemplation.