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Allison Moorer
MISS FORTUNE
(UNIVERSAL SOUTH)

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Moorer brandishes the kind of honeyed alto that, in a better world, would make folks forget the legions of puff pastries parading across modern countryís airwaves. But on Miss Fortune, her third album in four years, she seems increasingly disinterested in playing to genre typecasting as a roots or alterna-country artist, instead embracing soulful horns, strings, and elegant countrypolitan arrangements that bring to mind golden-throated stylists like Bobbie Gentry and Sammi Smith, both of whom transcended genre distinctions. Writing or co-writing all but one of Miss Fortuneís 10 tracks (many of them with her collaborator/husband Doyle Primm), and backed by an impeccable line-up that includes ex-Wilco multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett, Moorer sways ("Tumbling Down"), smolders ("No Place for a Heart"), and swaggers ("Hey Jezebel"), mixing the torchy artifice of her material with the lived-in conviction of her voice. The hands-down highlight here is "Let Go," an unguarded confessional thatís carried along by lovely folk guitars and Moorerís own conveyance of quiet devastation. Occasionally, slick production and bathos get in the way: "Steal the Sun" is overcooked Celine/Mariah claptrap minus the annoying vocal gymnastics, and "Up This High" is clammy with moon-in-June clichés. But the missteps are minor given the creative strides Moorer makes with this album.

(Allison Moorer performs at the Paradise next Thursday, September 19. Call 617-423-NEXT.)

BY JONATHAN PERRY

Issue Date: September 12 - 19, 2002
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