Sisters Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer Bring Alabama to Lincoln Center
It was a long way from Alabama in the stunning Appel Room at Jazz! At Lincoln Center last week, but legendary sisters Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer gave the room a warm Southern welcome that brought us right back to their roots. The duo performed as part of Lincoln Center’s American Songbook, sharing songs off their 2017 record, Not Dark Yet, and a few great oldies – all with the breathtaking backdrop of New York City behind them, twinkling in the night.
Love was in the air between the sisters, and they shared the stage with nothing but grace and respect for each other. Their harmonies were gorgeous, and they took turns belting out smooth, whiskey-warm vocals, with Moorer often taking the lead. As Moorer moved between guitar and piano, their eyes remained locked on each other, exchanging knowing smiles like only two very in-sync sisters can.
A hush swept over the room during their performance of one of Not Dark Yet’s standout tracks “Is It Too Much?”, a song that seems to tell the story of their grief after tragically losing both their parents when they were young. It’s a song about support and shared sorrow, and the incredible intimacy of it could be felt in the air, like a private moment we weren’t meant to witness.
Elsewhere in the set, they had a little fun covering Nirvana’s iconic “Lithium”, and fellow Alabama native Jason Isbell’s co-write with wife Amanda Shires “Color of a Cloudy Day.” They tuned into their twangier sound with Merle Haggard’s “Silver Wings” and paid tribute to Nick Cave with a version of “Into My Arms.”
But the most moving part of watching these two women play side by side came in the second half of their set, when they sang a series of songs about their beloved Alabama. Between Moorer’s beautiful “She Knows Where She Goes” and Lynne’s sweet “Miss You Sissy,” they shared stories of singing contests from their childhood, making us laugh while also reminding us to call our sisters when we got home. Through their shared past, they were able to give us a glimpse into their most private moments, together and apart.
Lynne may have said it best when she told us, “I thought I was homesick for where I was from, but really I was just homesick for my sister because she’s the only home I’ve ever known.”