Allison Moorer The Duel

Fed up with her major label experience and their lack of support, the 1999 Grammy-nominee Moorer turned to independent Sugar Hill Records as her new home. Regardless of what label she’s on, the supple singer-songwriter’s voice is as gripping as ever. With The Duel, Moorer ramps up the decibels a little, offering a more country rock sound. Right from the guttural guitars that lead into the opener, "I Ain’t Giving Up on You,” the electric guitar is more prominent over the acoustic. Regardless of the style Moorer chooses to sing, it’s her voice and her words that draw the listener in. "Baby Dreamer” is a powerful song about living up to one’s dreams in a world that appears desolate. Moorer opens this moving monologue when she sadly sings, "There’s a foreign movie/ Up on your silver screen/ Black and White and silent/ If you don’t count the screams.” While an air of melancholy envelops many of the tracks, Moorer’s dreamlike voice infuses the songs with a sense of hope. "All Aboard” is a wonderfully crafted metaphorical journey song that has an underlying political message, critiquing conformity and capitalism with lines like, "A team of old white studs/ Pulls this rolling country club” and "Watch your mouth and close your eyes/ And we allow no yellow foreign queers.” The disc’s highlight though is the title track, which features Moorer’s high lonesome voice backed by a lone piano and harmonica. Overall, The Duel is a profoundly personal reflection of Moorer’s mixed musical journey to date, with tenderness and toughness, the talented songwriter from Alabama shows that she’ll be making records for a long time to come. (Sugar Hill)