Album Discussion: Kip Moore’s “Slowheart”
Kip Moore is his own sound. You simply cannot pigeonhole the guy, and it’s awesome. Very few artists are able to release (quality) songs that could fit in any genre. The benchmark for such obviously being artists like Willie Nelson who could release Red Headed Stranger and then Stardust. Moore obviously is not yet on that level, but he’s following in that path.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t always such a huge Kip Moore fan. “Somethin’ Bout a Truck” was trend-chasing albeit fun. But because that was my first impression of him, I doubted he was an artist of substance. I basically didn’t look that much in to his full debut album Up All Night even after he released the better singles “Beer Money” and “Hey Pretty Girl.” Then along came Wild Ones, and after several spins of the record I was engulfed in his music. Wild Ones was by no means a lyrically strong record, but sonically it was fantastic. Something new and different that music as a whole needed. Because of my experience with Wild Ones, I immediately gave Up All Night a spin. Lyrically, this was a much stronger record. “Everything But You,” “Mary was the Marrying Kind,” “Where You Are Tonight.” Songs that spoke to human relationships in the realest way imaginable.
Then came the live performances and Moore’s live EP Underground. “Separate Ways” and “My Baby’s Gone” are raw, vivid, and brutally honest. So by the time Slowheart was announced, my expectations were sky-high. And they were exceeded.
I firmly believe it takes a certain type of person to truly “get” Kip Moore’s music. Much like Eric Church, you develop a connection with his music through the lyrics, sound, and live show. With Kip Moore, however, I think there’s certain things a listener has to go threw in his or her own life to connect with Moore. You need a little bit of a wondrous spirit. You need to have experienced some real, authentic hurt in your own life to really connect with what he’s singing about. That’s the thing about Kip Moore. He doesn’t pander. Apart from “Somethin’ Bout a Truck” at the beginning of his career, Moore hasn’t released another song that panders to radio play. Argue about his sound. Argue about where he should fit as an artist if you want. But you better believe his music is as authentic as it comes. Now this can work to his detriment commercially speaking. Mainstream listeners aren’t really going to dig his music because he’s not singing upbeat, partying songs. And the Americana crowd isn’t going to dig him because they don’t like his sound or how he’s on a major label. But Moore, again like Eric Church, has carefully cultivated a fan-base that’s rabid, supportive, and in it for his music. He doesn’t care about the commercial aspect.
The album as a whole really combines the best of Up All Night and Wild Ones. Sonically, it’s closer to Wild Ones, but lyrically it’s much closer to Up All Night. It’s been well-documented but worth mentioning. After his last tour, Moore was feeling burned out and needed a break from music. He traveled to places like Iceland and Costa Rica where he backpacked and surfed. Half of the songs were written before his break, and half were written after. Moore was up front with the fact that many listeners would be able to tell which songs were written when. The songs written before his break are a bit more bleak and down-beat. The songs after are more hopeful and optimistic. I think it would be best here to give a track-by-track rundown.
“Plead the Fifth”
“Plead the Fifth” is a great way to open the album. It’s a brutal portrait of a man too proud to admit he’s not over a woman. The self-destructive behavior is evident, but he can’t bring himself to fully admit it.
“Just Another Girl”
Perhaps the most bitter song on the album, “Just Another Girl,” finds Moore realizing he’s just another man in a band, and the girl he was briefly with was just a girl who he was writing about at the time. For a brief second, the listener finds his or herself wondering if Moore is regretting the life he chose.
“I’ve Been Around”
“I’ve Been Around” is just a fun, rollicking song. Moore truly has been everywhere, and “I’ve Been Around” is actually an understated way of putting it.
I’ve seen a fair amount of outlets that I respect as one of the more shallow songs on the album, but I disagree with that assessment. When you’re playing the bar circuit, you see a lot. Alcohol, friendly women, and things the Bible would label as sinning. Moore admits he wants more in the song, but he realizes where he’s stuck at the moment.
One of the album’s highlights. Love gone wrong. A familiar theme in some of the best country songs. “Bittersweet Company” considers a love that started off strongly but faded into something cold and harsh. It’s a poignant vignette.
The first thing I thought of when listening to “Sunburn” was how it sounded like something Gary Allan could’ve cut in the mid 2000s. It’s simple country rock. The lyrics are nothing too deep but not all songs have to be introspective examinations of the human condition.
“More Girls Like You”
The lead single off the album, “More Girls Like You” finds Moore singing about a new-found sense of maturity. He’s not entirely sure if he’s 100% ready to settle down, but he’s considering more heavily than ever before.
My favorite song on the album. “The Bull” is a middle finger to anyone who ever doubted Moore or his fan-base. I relate deeply to the lyrics.
“Blonde” takes a familiar country formula and turns it into a clever chorus. A small-town girl forgets her roots, and Moore makes some simple observations.
Kip Moore is influenced by not only the great 70s songwriters but also Motown. “Good Thing” has that Marvin Gaye vibe up-front-and-center.
“Last Shot” is perhaps the most stereotypical country song on the album. It’s not a bad song by any means; it’s a solid album cut that speaks to a man’s love for a woman.
“Try Again” once finds Moore with a new-found sense of maturity. While in the past, he may have just walked away, he now is willing to give a relationship a second or third try.
The album ends with a simply fantastic song. “Guitar Man” is Kip Moore’s own spin on the themes found in Billy Joel’s “Piano Man.” He comes through town, plays a show, makes a connection with the fans, and then is gone until the next show. If you’re not a Kip Moore fan, give “Guitar Man” a spin. You may just become one.