REVIEW: Allison Moorer’s “Blood” is Destined For a Slew of Americana Awards


Allison Moorer returns on October25th with her autobiographical Autotelic/Thirty Tigers album, Blood. The album serves as a musical companion to her Da Capo Press memoir, fittingly titled, Blood: A Memoir. Over the course of ten tracks and a half hour addresses and confronts the circumstances that shattered her and her sister Shelby Lynne’s teenage world, her parent’s murder suicide. The album reunites Moorer with “The Hardest Part” producer Kenny Greenberg who also adds bass, guitars and pedal steel throughout. The album has a sparse, intimate feel which makes each track all the more compelling. I’ve always considered The Hardest Part and sister Shelby’s I Am Shelby Lynne albums to be high water marks of the genre. Blood is destined to join that lofty designation. It’s an album that’s emotional, personal and gripping. It’s an album that is worthy of taking home a slew of Americana awards, and I’m confident, Grammy consideration.

The album flows as a song cycle, with Moorer tackling head on, family, love, trauma, grief and survival. Throughout, Moorer assumes the voice of her father’s heartache, “Set My Soul Free” and “I’m the One to Blame”(which her father actually had written, and sister Shelby wrote music to accompany), her mother’s matter of fact approach towards frustration in “The Rock and the Hill.”  But perhaps the most meaningful songs come from Moorer’s perspective. The heartbreaking ode to her big sister’s protectiveness in “Nightlight,” anger and resentment of “All I Ever Wanted (Thanks Anyway),” and the acceptance and perseverance of “Blood” and “Heal.”  Still, I keep going back to “Cold, Cold Earth.”

“Cold, Cold Earth” first appeared as a bonus hidden track on Allison Moorer’s 2000 sophomore release, “The Hardest Part.” Knowing the story behind the song and hearing the ache of Moorer’s voice stopped me in my tracks back then, and its re-recording on 2019’s Blood still affects me much the same. Back then, Moorer wasn’t ready to discuss the often brought up topic of her parents, and she used the song as a cathartic method that she thought would answer all the obvious questions. It didn’t, and she reflects now that, “I’m not John Prine, I couldn’t do that in three verses.” If anything, it created more interest and questions and caused Moorer to as she says, “play the see me/don’t see me game for 20 years.” With Blood, Allison Moorer has reclaimed “Cold, Cold Earth,” and her life story. She’s older, wiser and has grown as a songwriter. Perhaps, she also has a better grasp on “such a sad, sad world.”

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