For Allison Moorer, writing has always been a release, beginning with the first song she wrote at age eight, as a child growing up poor in Southern Alabama, and continuing through ten career albums that have garnered her Grammy and Oscar nominations along with a host of other honors. But the singer-songwriter’s new record, Blood, along with her upcoming memoir of the same name, is her most personal and revealing yet. Both stare head-on into the trauma that has shaped her life since she was fourteen, when early in the morning of August 12, 1986, her father shot and killed her mother and then himself in the family’s front yard while Moorer and her older sister, the Grammy-winning singer Shelby Lynne, slept inside.
“The one-two punch of memoir and album emerges as a precise, lyrical, and even wise meditation on grief, survival, and the healing power of creating art,” writes the Kentucky author Silas House in an upcoming profile of Moorer for Garden & Gun. Indeed, over Blood’s ten tracks, Moorer, for the first time, walks listeners through her emotional journey. “Cold, Cold Earth,” a song she penned in 1999 but felt unprepared to release on an album until now, tells the story of her parents’ final night. “All I Wanted (Thanks Anyway)” laments the voids they left behind, while “Heal” closes the album with a hopeful benediction.
And although Moorer writes in her book, “This is my version of the story. It is the only one I can tell,” the album interweaves the stories of each member of her family, including songs written from both of her parents’ perspectives. “The Rock and the Hill” gives voice to the struggles her mother faced raising two daughters while dealing with an abusive husband, while “Set my Soul Free” is a study in empathy, offering a compassionate look at her father’s depression from his point of view. She even performs a song her father wrote before she was born, putting his hauntingly prophetic lyrics to a tune written by Shelby Lynne: “Jealousy and pride drove me to shame / I’m so sorry Dear. I’m the one to blame.”
But ultimately, Blood is the story of Moorer’s road to forgiveness and healing. As she sings in the title track: “You don’t have to explain. I’ve got your blood running through my veins.”