It ain't easy being cool. Nashville songstress Allison Moorer made a couple of stabs at breaking into mainstream country with two groundbreaking albums while on MCA Records, but somebody forgot to tell her that there's a mold she needed to fit into. Ever the rebel, Moorer makes music that is too scary for country radio -- tempered with the harsh lyrical honesty of life's trials, steeped with the pure power of her emotional delivery and wrapped in a plethora of styles that shirk convention. Her first release on the (sort of) upstart label Universal South, Moorer's new release, Miss Fortune
, is a musical tour of the South, with a dose of Memphis soul, one foot on the rise of the Smoky Mountains and a little Nashvegas twang thrown in. Oh, and she rocks out too.
Once again, Moorer wrote or co-wrote every tune -- except for husband Doyle "Butch" Primm's solo contribution, "Mark My Word," a tender but ominous admonishment concerning a potentially doomed love affair. From the hypnotic romanticism of "Tumbling Down" to the gothic hillbilly sound of "Dying Breed," Moorer and her band are all over the place, with her honeydew voice right out front for the world to hear. Whether it's the retro-pop feel of "Steal the Sun" or the full-tilt wailing of "Going Down" (which could send Tina Turner back to Nutbush), Moorer is clearly the star here.Allison Moorer plays Smith's Olde Bar Sun., Aug. 11.