For the latest release from their hotly anticipated first-ever collaborative LP, Not Dark Yet, sisters Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer channel the close harmony of Country Music Hall of Fame legends the Louvin Brothers on “Every Time You Leave.” But instead of the bluesy, near-rock & roll treatment given to the brothers’ 1961 original, the sisters’ piano-driven arrangement, with Lynne on lead vocal and Moorer contributing harmony throughout, plots the song’s thoroughly dysfunctional relationship with soulful poignancy.
Written by Charlie and Ira Louvin, and released on a 1963 single with a Willie Nelson tune called “There Is No Easy Way,” Charlie Louvin would note later that “Every Time You Leave” was Ira’s address to one of his wives (he was married four times), telling her that although he knew they would eventually reconcile, their separation was unbearable. At the time the song was written, Ira was married to third wife, Faye, who would, after a violent argument, fire five shots into her husband. He would survive, but, tragically, four years later, in June 1965, Louvin and his fourth wife, Canadian singer Anne Young, were among six people killed in a head-on collision in
The tragic turn in the young lives of Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer is well-documented, with the 1986 death of their mother at the hands of their father, who then killed himself, when the siblings were teenagers. But even though their singing careers took separate paths, as youngsters in the tiny town of Franklin, Alabama, Lynne and Moorer were often found performing as a pair, just as they did on the 2010 Side By Side Tour.
“I was one of those little three-year-olds that they put up on the piano to sing,” Lynne told Rolling Stone in 2015. “When I learned to play the ukulele and make some chords, Daddy put Allison and me in the damn fiddler’s conventions, which are basically acoustic talent contests. We won the prize for $25. I learned to play ukulele at about seven or eight, so that would make Allison about four. We were just babies.”
Not Dark Yet, which also includes covers of tunes by Merle Haggard, Townes van Zandt, Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires, Jessi Colter and Nirvana, among others, closes with an original tune from the siblings, “Is It Too Much.” Produced by Teddy Thompson, the album will be released August 18th.