By Barry Gilbert
St. Louis Post-Dispatch


June 13, 2006

Allison Moorer
'Getting Somewhere'
Sugar Hill Records
Grade: B

Allison Moorer has completed her conversion from a country singer, unveiled on 1998's "Alabama Song," to a rocker with pop tendencies -- or maybe a popster with rock tendencies -- on her new CD, "Getting Somewhere."

Moorer is blessed with a marvelous voice, an expressive instrument of intense clarity touched with a husky quality that has served her well on a journey through Dusty Springfield soul and British Invasion sounds on "The Hardest Part" in 2000 to the crunchy rock of "The Duel" two years ago.

Now, with new husband Steve Earle producing, her sound is an odd but effective cross between Earle's alt-country rock -- big strummed guitars and big bass and drums -- and an almost '60s girl-group pop.

Somewhat diminished, however, is her voice, mixed into the band and at times double-tracked and even processed. This is a far cry from the chanteuse with an acoustic guitar who opened for Earle at the Pageant in April 2005.

But while Moorer may have "lost" her voice, she has found her "voice" -- that is, she is writing solo for the first time, and the results are impressive.

The middle three songs give the CD its emotional core. Moorer and her big sister, singer Shelby Lynne, were orphaned in their teens when their father killed their mother and then himself.

"New Year's Day" recalls childhood memories of household tension and denial, and the acoustic "How She Does It" rewrites history: Mom takes her daughters and escapes. In the next song, Moorer tells her sister she'll always be "Where You Are."

Thanks to the music, however, Moorer never descends into morbidity or self-pity. And with other songs professing faith in herself and the world, she really is "Getting Somewhere."