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Moorer, Lynne bring sunshine

Sinclair Cambridge, Cambridge, Mass., August 22, 2017

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Decades into their recording careers and 22 albums later, Shelby Lynne and her "sissie," Allison Moorer, finally released an album together, "Not Dark Yet." On their on their second tour ever together, they seem to have that sibling love of music and each other down pat - in a very good way.

Moorer and Lynne have gone their separate paths musically. Lynne, 3 years older at 48, once upon a time won the Grammy for Best New Artist, even though it was her sixth release. She started in country and dipped her toes into pop and blues. Moorer also found herself in country, but more on the alt.-country and now Americana side. Both have enjoyed pockets of popularity while never breaking out big time commercially.

They may not either with "Not Dark Yet," but it's not for lack of quality. Like other sibling acts, e.g., The Louvin Brothers, whom Moorer and Lynne covered on the CD and in concert ("Every Time You Leave,"), there was that knowing music compliment to each other that came through time and again whether singing or talking.

Moorer shines with a sweet, honey-soaked voice, while Lynne's is a bit rougher and huskier. They offered a variety of covers from "Not Dark Yet" - Dylan's title track, Townes Van Zandt's well-penned "Lungs," Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires "The Color of a Cloudy Day," which sounded quite strong, Jessie Colter's "I'm Looking for Blue Eyes" and Merle Haggard's "Silver Wings."

And then it was their own song, "Is It Too Much," the slower, spare ballad, which they played mid-set. The song was penned about the tragedy in their lives - the murder/suicide of their mother and father three decades ago.

Sometimes trading off stanzas, Moorer and Lynne sing "No one else walks upon this road / No one else bears this heavy load / Is it too much to carry in your heart?" The subject matter certainly was difficult, and give them credit for even being able to sing about the horror they must face when they sing their song. And that they did with aplomb. A guitarist, here and elsewhere, sprayed the song with a few chords, adding texture and bite to the delivery.

While played elsewhere on tour, the duo did not play Nirvana's "Lithium" from the new disc, and there was no encore. It was unclear why because they certainly were deserving of one. The pair, instead, closed with Lynne's "I'll Hold Your Head," further referencing their parental past, albeit not all filled with sadness. "We learned how to sing in that car," Moore said in introducing the song.

The song wasn't filled with pleasant memories. "It ain't fair for a youngun' all this hurtin' / Battlin' the blues and the beer and the bourbon / Come on Sissy let's close the door / Don't want to hear the noise no more."

With that, they segued into the standard "Side by Side" and its note of togetherness as they travel along. In a past surrounded by darkness, Moorer and Lynne bring sunshine to their music and to us, only further underscoring their musical acumen both solo and together.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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