Allison Moorer’s last album, Down to Believing, which drilled into the messy cycle of grief, was arguably a career-best for the extraordinary singer-songwriter. Her latest, Blood, plumbs even greater depths and boasts even more scalpel-sharp songwriting; in what has been an exceptional year for country music, it’s handily the album of the year. The album isn’t simply “about” the well-known story of her parents’ murder-suicide, which has intermittently bubbled up to the surface over the course of her career. Instead, Blood uses that autobiographical horror as a starting point, as Moorer wrestles with such heady topics as generational cycles of grief (on the stunning “Nightlight” and the title track) and the debilitating effects of long-term abuse (raucous lead single, “The Rock and the Hill”).
What’s most striking about the album is the complexity of Moorer’s emotional palette: There isn’t outright forgiveness for her father, but there’s a stunning sense of grace in her attempts to understand him better. She avoids the temptation to paint him simply as a villain in a tragic narrative and, instead, captures the humanity in all four members of her family. The album’s release is accompanied by a release of a memoir of the same title. The book goes into greater detail — and, though her insightful blog had already proven it, demonstrates the power of Moorer’s prose — but Blood stands fully on its own as an album of rare power and depth.
Published as part of Rooted & Restless | December 2019