Sisters Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer have both forged successful music careers separately, with their own unique parlance. Lynne's sound is bluesy country, the songs of a stridently independent woman. For example, she takes no prisoners with "Down Here" a gritty, honky-tonk take on love featured on her most recent solo album I Can’t Imagine (2015). Moorer’s songcraft is closer to contemporary country, wrapped in pop stylings. "A Soft Place to Fall," which was nominated for an Academy Award for The Horse Whisperer and included on her 1998 debut album Alabama Song, is as light as a down comforter and sweet as apple pie.
The contrast of their voices—Shelby's like freshly buffed sandpaper, Allison's like cool, running water—could only complement each other. While they did do the Side by Side Tour together in 2010, fans have been craving a collaboration from the siblings. Their wishes have finally been granted with the release of Not Dark Yet, which arrived this past week.
The Alabama natives' duet album contains ten tracks, all covers, except for the original "Is It Too Much," a measured, adult contemporary tune. They co-wrote it, and it's solid, but it doesn't carry the weight or possess the soul of the other songs on the album. The opening track, a take on the Killers' "My List," is an earnest country rendition of the edgy song, with the sisters' voices blending like honey. "I'm Looking for Blue Eyes" is a smoother, pop-saturated take on Jessi Colter's denim-and-diamonds tune. Merle Haggard's "Silver Wings" is given an airy interpretation that doesn't quite have the gravitas of the original because it's too neat and glossy. It takes guts to tackle a Bob Dylan tune, but Lynne and Moorer give the title track the introspective bent it needs and make it their own, while remaining true to the song’s essence.
The prolific sisters have twenty-one solo albums under their belts, and this first duet album has successfully merged the qualities that make many of them gems. They give a nod to their predecessors and peers with Not Dark Yet, while also proving that they complement each other vocally. Their next challenge should be to do a whole album of original material, sussing out their songwriting synchronicity.
Notable Tracks: “I’m Looking for Blue Eyes” | “My List” | “Not Dark Yet”
SEE Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer on tour | Dates