Album Review: Not Dark Yet, Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer

Sister Feelings Call

You would expect sisters Shelby Lynne and Alison Moorer to have a deep musical connection, and the harmonies on Not Dark Yet prove that to be the case. But the shared, unspeakable trauma of their youth adds something deeper, a blue undercurrent. This is soul music.

Lynne has previous form when it comes to cover records – only one song here, yearning closer ‘Is It Too Much’, is an original. Her Dusty Springfield inspired collection, Just A Little Lovin’, ranks alongside her classic I Am Shelby Lynne. Moorer, perhaps best known for ‘A Soft Place To Fall’, an Oscar nominated ballad from Robert Redford’s The Horse Whisperer, recorded the fine Mockingbird with producer Buddy Miller in 2008, a collection of songs by female songwriters such as Joni Mitchell and Patti Smith, as well as one by her older sister.

Beautiful versions of material by Merle Haggard, Jesse Coulter, Townes Van Zandt and The Louvin Brothers could, perhaps, be expected; the opening reworking of The Killers’ ‘My List’, less so. The two prizes are Dylan’s title track, where the sympathetic instrumentation and production allow the voices to soar, and Nick Cave’s ‘Into My Arms’, the harmonies imbuing a spirituality to a lyric that tries its best to deny it. The Nirvana cover, ‘Lithium’, is perhaps the only cut that doesn’t quite work; the harmonies are just slightly, perhaps deliberately, off kilter. However, much like Sturgill Simpson’s recent version of ‘In Bloom’, it suggests that Cobain’s songs are sometimes better served being sung by others.

A distant touchstone might be the Emmylou Harris classic Wrecking Ball; you can file this gorgeous record alongside that one at the soul-country crossroads.

8/10

Out now.

 

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