Not Dark Yet is the first collaborative album between Americana singer-songwriters and sisters Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer. It is a cover album, covering genres from country classics to grunge standards to modern alternative pop, and the song choices are practically perfect.
With cover albums, the choice of songs is just as important as how the songs are covered. Wisely, Lynne and Moorer stick to more obscure songs. The artists might be recognizable (Merle Haggard, the Killers, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) but the songs are obscure enough that Lynne and Moorer are able to deftly transform them and make it their own. Likewise, while Lynne and Moorer sing each song in relatively the same style, it never feels dull or repetitive. The production of the album helps: the placement of the songs is done amazingly well.
The genres are scattered throughout the album, and listeners aren’t hit with a five song block of 1970s country. Instead, it would be a modern Americana song, followed by a classic country number, followed by a somber, more art rock song. These shifts in genres keep the album from becoming stale or predictable.
As to be expected, the country/Americana sisters shine strongest on the country/Americana songs. “I’m Looking For Blue Eyes,” a forgettable 1970s Jessi Colter song, is transformed into a beautifully minimalist alt-country ballad. Lynne and Moorer slow the song down, giving it a soft guitar to back up the equally gentle vocals. The song doesn’t sound dated but instead sounds modern and fresh. The sisters give modern twists to another older country song on the album, “Silver Wings,” originally by Merle Haggard. The use of slide guitar and an emphasis on percussion bring this song to new heights.
However, the two shine through on the non-country songs as well. The first song, a cover of “My List” by the Killers, gives the album an amazing start. Lynne and Moorer bring their own Americana sensibilities to the indie rock song, transforming it into a beautifully minimalist acoustic cover. Unsurprisingly, Lynne and Moorer’s voices play perfectly with each other, soaring over a quiet piano line and soft guitars. The harmonies are simple yet intertwine perfectly, vocals complementing each other.
Of course, there is one exception: “Lithium”, a cover of the Nirvana song, and a noticeable misstep. While Lynne and Moorer are able to transform some of the more obscure songs, “Lithium” still sounds like a Nirvana song. It sounds like a bad cover, like these two women are trying to perform a Nirvana song in the style of Nirvana instead of the style of Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer. Still, one misstep in a ten song album isn’t anything to sneer at. With Not Dark Yet, Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer give us an album full of amazingly re-interpreted covers, breathing new life and new directions into each song.