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Allison Moorer -- The Hardest Part (MCA).  The follow-up to Alabama Song kicks off with the title cut, a mouthful of lonesome twang that recalls the naievete of youth ("children say that words will never harm you / ...but they'll grow up one day and learn the real truth / when the one they love says goodbye").  Party boy Marty Stuart guests on mandolin, and Joe Spivey's fiddle really brings it all together.  After that, out comes the electric guitars and big drums.  In my opinion, this mars the album and makes it sound slicker than it needs to be.  But that's as far as my criticism goes, because it's a really good record -- it just doesn't twang as much as much as I'd hoped.  I mean, what's the point of the pedal steel in the song "Day You Said Goodbye"?  Please e-mail me if you figure it out.  I love her voice, and I love her writing, but I question the manner in which the material is presented.   "It's Time I Tried" has a nice feel to it -- sort of that "Dusty in Memphis" lush strings-meets-blues groove.  The string of merely good songs ends at Track #7 where Moorer nails it in "Is It Worth It" -- less IS more when you can write and sing like her.  This tune is followed by the album's best cut, "Send Down an Angel" where the pedal steel sounds right at home (even with that creepy mellotron chirping along).  The record closes with two gorgeous laments (the second is hidden at the end).  The second, hidden, track tells the tragic story of her parents' deaths -- a murder/suicide carried out by her despairing father.  Raw and daring, it, more than anything, reveals the potential of this devastatingly honest songwriter whose writing and singing talents have only been hinted at on this album.  Her voice is pure country -- I just hope they surround it with pure country music next time.  -TRS

Track listing:

1. The Hardest Part (3:13)
2. Day You Said Goodbye (4:21)
3. It's Time I Tried (4:13)
4. Best that I Can Do (3:23)
5. Think It Over (3:58)
6. Bring Me All Your Lovin' (5:24)
7. Is It Worth It (3:22)
8. Send Down an Angel (3:47)
9. No Next Time (6:38)
10. Feeling that Feeling Again (4:19)

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