Shelby Lynne, Allison Moorer


Aug 26, 2017 – 1:00 PM

31 West Street
Annapolis, MD 21401 Map

  • Shelby Lynne
  • Allison Moorer

More Info

with Rick Brantley
Shelby Lynne: One day back in the Spring of ’05, I received an e-mail from Barry Manilow. We had met at a Grammy function a few years back. Turns out he digs my music. So we've kept in touch over the last couple of years. In Barry's e-mail he asked me if I had ever considered covering the Dusty Springfield songbook. I didn't respond at that time. I had just released my latest record on Capitol called Suit Yourself and was about to take off on the road for a few months. I couldn't wrap my head around anything but going on the road. But, somewhere in the back of my brain I kept the thought closely tucked away.

It wasn’t until May of ‘06 when I went to my manager Betty and asked her what she thought about the idea of recording the Dusty songs. She liked the idea, and thought I should do it. The thing is, I didn't want to just record these songs, I wanted to make the recording simple and important.

Over drinks in a dark bar in Hollywood I put my cards on the table. The record company man told me that they didn't know what to do with the last record I made. We sat there and tossed around bullshit for an hour or so. Round two began and we had some more drinks. We were just getting fuzzy and not a lot was accomplished. Towards the end of a frustrating evening I remember saying, "Hell, I'm just going to call Barry Manilow and cut the Dusty Springfield songs! Maybe somebody will like that! Everybody loves Dusty!" Record company man almost dropped his drink, got all saucer eyed and said, "Well, I can see getting behind that." I laughed out loud. Record men respond when you talk about Dusty Springfield. Capitol was ready, but I wasn't in a hurry. I needed the perfect producer, and hadn't figured that part out yet. I needed someone who would understand that these songs stand the test of time, and that Dusty Springfield is timeless. We thought of every producer from all walks of music. It was such an important call to make. One slip up with the wrong guy and this could turn out to be just another cover record sounding like it was made for all the wrong reasons. It was tough tossing this around. Then one afternoon Betty mentioned the guy who would understand me. He would allow me more room in the studio, and not just being the girl singer. He would choose the right band.

So, I picked up the phone and called Phil Ramone. I said, “I want to cut the Dusty Springfield songs.” He said, "I think we can do that." We talked on the phone for several months staring in July of ‘06. I'd call him with my thoughts about the songs I loved, and we exchanged and compared our ideas. We were excited. Capitol was chomping at the bit and wanted it out before the end of the year, but I still wanted to wait. So I told Phil that we should cool off until the first of the year to start recording. Let's get through the holidays and start fresh. Also, I wanted to work with recording engineer Al Schmitt, because this record had to sound perfect.

January ‘07 finally came along. We all gathered at the Capitol Records building Studio A. The thought of having Capitol Studio A, Phil Ramone, Al Schmitt, these killer musicians and Dusty Springfield was nerve racking, but I knew I was up to the task. Phil had assembled a group of four guys; Greg Field on drums, Dean Parks on guitar, Rob Mathes on keyboards and Kevin Axt on Bass. We had what we called a "menu" of songs to cut, so we started at the top. I had wanted to record at the Capitol building my whole career and this was the album to do it. All of the drama I had endured with Capitol Records up to this point finally came to an end. The very week we started recording this album, Capitol Records was no more. My deal with them ended, and for a while this record and I were without a label. That's where Lost Highway enters the picture. When they heard it, they loved it just the way it was. Plain and simple. Cut to tape and zero frills. So, we had a deal.

Dusty Springfield was a soulful singer. You can't ever fill her shoes. So I just set out to sing songs we all want to hear again. The road map I followed when cutting these, was the one she made years ago. It was easy. I just sang and let the songs do the work. I'm so glad I did. Dusty inspired it all.

Shelby Lynne 2007

Allison Moorer: Allison Moorer Biography

In the moments that launch her sixth album, an electric guitar cranks out a power chord, and Allison Moorer makes a powerful declaration:

"I've got a lot of work to do"

With these words, the Alabama born-and-bred singer embarks upon an intensely personal, yet instantly recognizable, journey. For Moorer, Getting Somewhere means looking inward, confronting the past and forging a glad present and a hopeful future. In the process, she takes her artistry to the next level and revolutionizes her life. For the first time in her nearly decade-long career, Moorer wrote every song on her new album (her second for Sugar Hill), produced by husband Steve Earle. What emerged from her pen -- and her guitar -- are ten melodic rock 'n' roll gems, succinctly stated in just under 32 minutes. "I didn't worry about who was going to like it or what was expected of me. I had a revelation that it was all right to express myself. When I listen to these songs, I can hear myself growing by leaps and bounds from the time I wrote the first song to the time I finished the last one.”

The changes in 33-year-old Moorer's life over the last couple of years have been profound. In 2004, she toured as Steve Earle's opening act. Her marriage to musical collaborator Doyle “Butch” Primm ended and she and Steve fell in love. "We wanted to do this right, and that meant getting married. I think proximity is one of the keys to a good relationship."

The couple spends most of their time in a modest apartment in New York City's Greenwich Village. "We came here to start fresh," says Moorer. "[New York] is something that's just ours." But they also live part-time just outside of Nashville, where Getting Somewhere was recorded in a whirlwind ten-day session.

Teaming with Earle was a different experience for Moorer than before. Though Earle's influence is felt in the big drums, dirty guitar sounds and backwards solos that have characterized some of his own work, the vision is uniquely Moorer's. "'You'll Never Know' is about me not being able to express myself the way I want," she says. "Musically, it's one of my favorite songs on the record. The way the verses go seamlessly into the choruses and the structure of it makes it one of my favorite things I’ve ever written. It was also a turning point. That song opened up a door for me to write melodies that are -- for lack of a better word -- pop." Writing the song itself presented a unique challenge. "I was on an airplane, flying across the country, with no tape recorder," Moorer explains. "I didn't want to lose the melody, so I thought of the scales in my mind, took out a piece of paper and wrote down the notes as numbers."

"You'll Never Know" dovetails gracefully out of "Work to Do" a defiant, positive kiss-off to the past. "I wrote that song for girls, and really for anybody who ever let someone tell them that they weren't good enough, that they couldn't do something they wanted to do," she says. "It's hard to erase negative stuff. If someone gives you a compliment, you forget about it in five minutes. If someone says something negative to you or about you, you'll carry it around with you for the rest of your life. It's something I've had to work on and continue to have to work on.”

If Moorer is taking her own inventory in Getting Somewhere's first three songs, the album's mid-section finds her dealing with ghosts and taking the reigns of her own creative process. "None of these songs are made up out of nothing, they all came from something I was experiencing at that moment or had experienced earlier." she says. "'New Year's Day' is about my childhood, a glimpse into how I grew up. 'Black-eyed peas in a plastic bowl on New Year's Day/sittin' in my swing-set swing to get away/ sissy says 'don't worry, it'll be ok' / so we do what we always do – stay out of the way.'] That really happened."

Moorer's childhood has cast a long, notorious shadow over her life. When she was only fourteen her parents died in a murder-suicide. In the song "How She Does It," Moorer revisits this defining event. "I wrote that song for my mother," she says. "It's me rewriting history. It was the first time I really realized my power as a writer. It hit me that I don't have to tell it as it is, I can tell it as I want it to be. [This time] she gets away."

It's an absolutely stunning moment, one that sets the tone for the album's sunset, culminating in the title track's dark-sounding but ultimately optimistic closer ["I close my eyes and whisper a prayer / I have to believe I'm getting somewhere"]. "I've come to terms with a lot of stuff and [decided] I'm going to give up this angst. I don't need it," Moorer says. "I've stopped wondering whether or not there is a god. I do believe in god. I'm sure I do for the first time in my life. And I'm really happy for the first time in my life." From the fat electric power chords of the opening track, to the thick acoustic strum and snare drum shuffle of "How She Does It," to the melancholy string section and classic melodic structure of "Where You Are," Getting Somewhere is filled with captivating, gorgeous sounds, including Moorer's dusky alto, which has never sounded better. More than anything else, though, Getting Somewhere is the sound of an artist finding her voice, finding her faith, finding her peace.


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