aLLISON MOORER opening for MARAH at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Tuesday (September 10). Free. 416-598-4753.
for country starlet allison Moorer there are few things more distasteful than doing interviews -- particularly on a tour bus when the soaps are on.Moorer's elder sibling Shelby Lynne is supposedly the less pleasant of the singing sisters -- I've experienced Lynne's ornery side first-hand -- although it could well be that Moorer is merely more skilled at hiding her contempt. It's Moorer, after all, who holds the college degree in public relations.
That's probably where she learned to smile pretty for on-camera interviews and act sweet for a paying audience, but it seems she missed the class on keeping up a false front during phone interviews with print journalists.
An innocuous ice-breaker like "So, where are you calling from?" is all it takes to set Moorer off. "I don't know," she snaps. "Somewhere between L.A. and San Francisco." So much for the pleasantries.
When asked if there was some concept that might help explain the scattered collection of songs that forms her new Miss Fortune (Universal South) disc, Moorer curtly replies, "It's just self-expression, that's all it is. We just did what we wanted to do and made this record for ourselves."
It must be nice not to have to worry about what people are buying and just make a record that's neither rootsy enough to appeal to an alt-country audience nor polished enough to get played on commercial country radio.
Moorer happily admits she doesn't pay any attention to the charts, saying, "That's not music; that's business." Fair enough.
The strange thing is that Miss Fortune was produced by R.S. Field, the go-to guy for a rougher, anti-Nashville sound. Yet this record sounds uncharacteristically smoothed over.
The opening track, Tumbling Down, is promising, but the rest will be a big disappointment to those who buy the record based on Field's rep.
"I know what his reputation is, but that's not all he can do," Moorer bites back.
If Miss Fortune flops, Moorer really hasn't got much to lose. There weren't any great expectations for it after her first two albums, 98's Alabama Song and 2000's The Hardest Part, sank without a trace.
It's her Universal South label boss, Tony Brown, who could suffer most. The new-country wunderkind behind the success of George Strait and Reba McEntire is now regarded as being out of step with the times. He could really use a hit right now to launch his new label venture and silence his critics.
Yet in light of the popular swing toward authentic old-school country sounds, trying to Reba-ize the soulful-voiced Moorer appears to be a move in the wrong direction.
"I've read several reviews that have said, "She's trying to go mainstream,'" Moorer snarls. "Bullshit! That wasn't in my head at all. How do you know what I was thinking? That kind of projection onto my music is just ridiculous.
"I try not to invest too much into what people say about my work. They can't get inside my head so they just make assumptions -- that's crap!"
If Moorer insists on dismissing all questions that come her way, she should expect writers to continue speculating and drawing their own conclusions.
Like about the relationship between Moorer and sister Lynne. The fact that neither is eager to discuss the other publicly just creates the impression that they've got something to hide. Moorer's keeping the closets shut.
"We like to keep our relationship as private as possible. I don't feel obliged to talk about any of my personal relationships. It's just not any of anybody's business."email@example.com