Allison Moorer made four albums on a major label. Then she asked out of her record deal.
"The major label country thing is all about radio," Moorer says. "If that doesn't happen, you're fucked. Seriously. They give up on your record, and it's dead. On the last studio album, Miss Fortune, the label told me, 'We're going to work this record for eighteen months.' It came out in August, and at the end of November they were going, 'There's just nothing on here that radio is going to play.' How does that make a person feel?"
That's why Moorer brought her new album The Duel, due April 13th, to Sugar Hill Records (Nickel Creek, Dolly Parton). It will be her first release on an independent label.
"Sugar Hill will be more committed," she says. "Honestly, they don't have Universal money. They can't afford to just throw shit at the wall and see what sticks. They have to stick with something if they make an investment. They put hands on the rock and push up the hill."
Moorer co-wrote The Duel with husband Butch Primm, and she recorded the eleven songs in twelve days, backed by a band consisting of multi-instrumentalist John Davis of Superdrag, guitarist Adam Landry (Stateside) and producer R.S. Field (Buddy Guy, John Mayall).
"I think it's the rawest, realest thing I've ever done," says Moorer. "It was very in the moment, a very inspired project, a very intense couple weeks for everybody involved."
But ultimately the experience affirmed Moorer's decision to operate off of Nashville's rigid grid. "I'm distancing myself from that as far as I can," she says. "The only thing I have to do with Nashville is that I live here."