The year 2000 proved to be a momentous year for this Alabama native. Obviously influenced by the soulful, mature departure from contemporary country music taken by her sister Shelby Lynne
2000 release I Am Shelby Lynne, Alison Moorer has similarly grown since her 1998 album Alabama Song
. While her debut CD flirted with the fine line between traditional country and the slick Nashville sound, The Hardest Part
dives headfirst into a southern soul-tinged countrypolitan sound, complete with string and horn sections. The Beatlesque, mellotron-infused "Send Down an Angel" sounds almost like "Strawberry Fields Forever" with less LSD and more whiskey, while "Is It Worth It" feels like Dusty Springfield
is back in Memphis again. The dark final track (unlisted in the liner notes) is a somber murder ballad, a heart-wrenchingly honest reaction to the death of her parents. Her brash, husky vocals hold the album together through heartache and pedal steel, and the fact that she co-wrote and co-produced the album proves that she's more than just a pretty voice. While it took six albums for her sister to realize her dissatisfaction with the limits of the pop country sound, Allison Moorer
has made great strides in just two.