Fortune Smiles

Unsung country crooner Allison Moorer changes course on a new album — and she doesn't care what you call it

Moorer insists she isn't trying to shed her own tag — that of a neotraditionalist country singer — with Miss Fortune. "I don't think that's something I can shake," she says in her thick Alabama drawl. "It's part of my makeup. I couldn't change it if I tried." (One of the many delights of Caught in the Webb, a tribute album to the great hard-country singer Webb Pierce that appeared earlier this year, is Moorer's reverential version of "Back Street Affair.") She has no plans to reinvent herself. "That would take calculation, and that's something I'm not very good at."

It's possible that Moorer will gain some new fans with her new sound — but will she leave her old fans behind? She really doesn't care.

"Just because you do something at one point in time doesn't mean you should necessarily be held to it for the rest of your life," she says. "I think that's when fear creeps in, and I think that's why sometimes people make decisions when they're making records that don't serve them well. Because of fear, because of categories, because they're scared somebody's going to get pissed off if they do something. Or they feel like they have to please radio or record companies or fans or whatever the hell. I think that when you're making a record, it has to be yours. You have to do it for yourself first."

Nashville's Allison Moorer makes music, not plans.
Jim Herrington
Nashville's Allison Moorer makes music, not plans.


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Moorer is quick to praise executive producer Tony Brown, who signed the singer to MCA Nashville in 1997, for granting her something virtually unheard of in Nashville: artistic freedom.

"He's kind of like my little angel," Moorer says of Brown, who just started a brand-new label — Universal South — under the MCA aegis with former Arista Nashville president Tim DuBois. (Miss Fortune is the label's second release.) "He tries to make sure that everything is cool with me, and that I'm allowed to follow my path. And that's really valuable. He's been a great friend and a great supporter."

Lynne, whose last album, Love, Shelby, was produced by pop-meister Glen Ballard, said goodbye to Nashville and now lives in Palm Springs. But Moorer — who politely declines to talk about her sister — isn't ready to give up on Music City. "Nashville gets a bad rap," she says. "There's all kinds of great stuff coming out of this town. Nobody knows about it, because it's hidden by all the crap that comes out of here. And that's a shame. Because there are great musicians and artists that live here who never get any attention because all the pabulum seems to get the spotlight."

It's clear that Moorer includes herself in that group of unheralded country performers, with folks such as Buddy and Julie Miller, Jim Lauderdale, and Kelly Willis. For years, Lucinda Williams toiled on the margins of the music industry, until her breakthrough 1998 album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. Can Miss Fortune do the same for Moorer? And if not, then what?

"God, who knows?" she says. "I think you just have to take it as it comes. Who knows what kind of record I'll end up making next? I'm not one of those chicks who makes plans. I'm not one of those chicks who sets goals, like, I have to accomplish this within the next six months.' Because I frankly find it kind of ridiculous. I know what kind of shit life can throw at you, so you're better off if you don't make any plans and just try to take it as it comes and do the best you can."

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