Getting Somewhere

by: Allison Moorer

Allison Moorer's fifth studio album, Getting Somewhere, opens with the words "I got a lot of work to do," and Moorer obviously wasn't kidding -- the album packs ten songs into a little over 31 minutes, with the singer and songwriter backed by a lean and scrappy four-piece band on most of the tracks, and the results are as emotionally potent and hard-edged as anything she has ever released. Tapping into her own ravaged childhood on "I Don't Know How She Does It" and "New Year's Day," her fears and anxieties about the world around her on "Getting Somewhere" and the current state of her heart and mind on "Take It So Hard," "If It's Just for Today," and "Where You Are," Getting Somewhere is a deeply personal work, but one that's presented without an excess of fuss or showboating. With her husband Steve Earle in the producer's chair, the album sounds as clear and direct as Moorer's songs (she wrote all ten tracks with the exception of one collaboration with Earle), and if the backing isn't as raucous as on 2004's The Duel, there isn't a wasted note or gesture on this record, and the leaner approach makes more room for Moorer's singing. And though Moorer's voice can fill as much space as is necessary, she doesn't overplay here, giving the songs as much filigree as they can use and no more. If fans were hoping for a grander gesture than Getting Somewhere, they're probably not listening close enough -- this album is full of soul, intelligence, and fine music created by a truly gifted singer, and the elegance of its presentation is one of its greatest virtues. In an era of bloated and overproduced albums, Moorer has delivered a small wonder with Getting Somewhere, and it ranks with her best music to date. ~ Mark Deming

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