I hate concerts. I don’t like hearing other people sing along to the artist I paid good money to hear. Standing kills my lower back. And honestly, I can just sit at home and listen to the album anyway.
I make an exception for Allison Moorer, whom I have seen in concert five times now, most recently this past week at the Rubin Museum. If I ever say that my favorite artist is anyone other than Moorer, I’m lying.
Where do I even start with Moorer? We could talk about her first album, Alabama Song, when she was still in Nashville and scored an Oscar nomination for the song “A Soft Place to Fall” (which isn’t even the best song on that album). Or we could talk about my first Moorer album, her second, the conceptual The Hardest Part, about a woman suffering through the stages of a bad relationship that ultimately ends in murder-suicide.
No one else has been the soundtrack to my life the way Moorer has. She has released seven albums, one of which was a covers album that includes her take on “Dancing Barefoot.” Picking a favorite among the albums is impossible, but I will say that I return to The Hardest Part a lot because it’s pretty much perfect.
We can talk about her voice, too, if you want, a warm, resonant, husky voice that is as adept at conveying heartbreak as it is defiance, one for which she writes songs beautifully suited. On The Hardest Part, when she sings, “Just because I’m lovin’ him don’t mean I’m over you,” the effect is both devastating in its simplicity and sneakily catty in its disingenuousness. And the cheerful weariness she brings to “Can’t Get There from Here,” on her Miss Fortune album, has marked it as one of the only songs that can pull me out of a slump.
Moorer is perhaps the only artist I know who has never released a dud album, or even an album heavy with duds. (Even Patty Loveless has released albums that I rarely listen to.) There’s really no excuse to not fire up Spotify and check her out. Start with The Hardest Part. And if the first song is too deep-fried country for you, just wait. Keep trying. Just like in life.