Allison Moorer


As American Idol shows week after week, it’s hard to cover a signature song and not leave the audience pining for the original. Can you imagine hearing “Ring of Fire” without conjuring Johnny Cash? “Dancing Barefoot” without Patti Smith ringing in your ears? “Both Sides Now” without echoes of Judy Collins (or Joni Mitchell, the songwriter)? That’s the astonishing accomplishment of Mockingbird, Allison Moorer’s collaboration with Americana icon Buddy Miller. After opening with her self-penned title track, Moorer puts a distinct stamp on 11 other women’s songs, including the aforementioned three, older sister Shelby Lynne’s “She Knows Where She Goes” and Nina Simone’s “I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl.” Her take on “Orphan Train” (by Julie Miller, her producer’s wife) exemplifies the sound: majestic, moving, a bit haunting, a bit rootsy, a tad bluesy and altogether beautiful. You might know Moorer from her Oscar-nominated song “A Soft Place to Fall,” or maybe “Days Aren’t Long Enough,” her Grammy-nominated duet with husband Steve Earle. On Mockingbird, the artist—like the material—sounds almost totally new. How refreshing!