Sisters Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer have released more than 20 albums between them, but nothing together — until this month. After years of promising its arrival — and years of creating songs separate from each other — they're finally dropping Not Dark Yet, a set of nine covers plus an original they co-wrote.
While Lynne and Moorer both moved to Nashville early in life to pursue music, their careers have taken the Alabama-born sisters on divergent paths. Lynne first signed to Epic Records and first released a duet in 1988 with George Jones (“If I Could Bottle This Up”), then her 1989 debut album, Sunrise, before mostly leaving country behind for pop in the early ’90s — eventually winning a Grammy for best new artist in 2001 ("Thirteen years and six albums to get here," she said, after accepting it). Moorer released her first of many country albums in 1998. That album's first single, “A Soft Place to Fall,” was featured in Robert Redford’s The Horse Whisperer, earning it an Oscar nomination. (Moorer also (strangely) recorded the hit single “Picture” with Kid Rock after Sheryl Crow originally said no — but her version was swapped for Crow’s right before it hit the radio.) Now, decades after their starts, Lynne and Moorer have musically reunited over a beautiful album of Americana covers.
No strangers to the covers game — Lynne released a Dusty Springfield tribute album, Just a Little Lovin’, in 2008, and Moorer released Mockingbird the same year, an album where she covers songs by Joni Mitchell, June Carter Cash and Cat Power, among others — the sisters are not genre-specific in their songs’ origins.
There are choices that seem like natural Americana/country fits — Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires’ “Color of a Cloudy Day;” Merle Haggard’s “Silver Wings;” Jessi Colter’s “I’m Looking for Blue Eyes;” Bob Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet” — and ones that are a bit less predictable — the Killers’ “My List;” Kurt Cobain’s “Lithium;” Nick Cave’s “Into My Arms.” Yet Lynne and Moorer’s interpretations make each track fit seamlessly onto an album that doesn’t much care for origin stories, instead creating a newly interpreted space rich with harmonies.
It’s often hard to tell Lynne and Moorer’s voices apart on the album, which sounds like a testament to how close they are — as siblings, or musically. And while the covers make up the bulk of Not Dark Yet, the haunting final (and original) song, “Is it too Much,” could be a jumping-off point for whatever the sisters are co-writing next.
1. "My List" (the Killers)
2. "Every Time You Leave" (the Louvin Brothers)
3. "Not Dark Yet" (Bob Dylan)
4. "I'm Looking for Blue Eyes" (Jessi Colter)
5. "Lungs" (Townes Van Zandt)
6. "The Color of a Cloudy Day" (Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires)
7. "Silver Wings" (Merle Haggard)
8. "Into My Arms" (Nick Cave)
9. "Lithium" (Kurt Cobain)
10. "Is it too Much" (Shelby Lynne, Allison Moorer)