by Steven Pisano
(All photos by Steven Pisano.)
Lincoln Center's American Songbook presents performers from different genres whose songs embody the series credo: "Outstanding voices. Essential stories. Enchanted evenings." On Thursday, the country music stars and sisters Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer (Lynne is a middle name turned surname) performed in the Appel Room, one of the city's most dramatic venues looking out a wall of windows over Central Park and the twinkling traffic of Central Park South.
Lynne and Moorer's current tour is in support of their 2017 album together, Not Dark Yet, featuring songs by Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, the Louvin Brothers, Townes Van Zandt, and Merle Haggard, among others. Although both have recorded individually for more than 20 years, this is Lynne and Moorer's first recording together. In a way, it is a reunion because Lynne has lived most of her life in California, and Moorer has lived here in Manhattan. Moorer claimed that she was the "practical one," always halting her drinking at three beers, while Lynne claimed in response that she had never stopped drinking at three beers in her life.
Both singers have strong country music voices (they hail from rural Alabama) which blend together well. You have to wonder why they haven't performed together before, although their individual styles have differed significantly over the years, Lynne leaning more toward pop and rocking out and Moorer more known for a contemplative country-folk sound that is very popular in the UK and amongst fans of NPR.
Much of the night was devoted to thoughtful songs telling emotional stories, particularly when Moorer was the singer. When they sang together, they tended to belt things out more. But this still was thoughtful singer-songwriter music, influenced by their Alabama roots, but not beholden to any Southern tradition.
More photos can be found here.