Kip Moore is not one to chase trends and as a result, his third studio album, SLOWHEART, is a breath of fresh air. While the country genre has become one that frequently embraces pop-country infused sounds and R&B styled production, Moore’s SLOWHEART brings the focus back to quality songwriting and welcomed diversity. The singer had complete control of the project, having co-produced and co-written 11 of the album’s 13 tracks, making for his best release yet. The versatile collection leans heavy on country, rock and Motown influences while Moore’s smooth vocals immediately draw the listener in.
Moore has lived a lot of life since the release of his 2012 debut Up All Night and 2015’s Wild Ones and he gives a glimpse into his journey throughout SLOWHEART. The swampy ’70s rock flavored “Just Another Girl” has the singer lamenting of a relationship he thought was working while on the rollicking “I’ve Been Around” he sings of where his travels have taken him: smoking a cigarette with Slash, hanging out with supermodels and drinking wine from thousand-dollar bottles. The troubadour maintains his down-home Georgia roots, though. “I’ll spend nights at the Crowne Plaza / But I feel right at home at the Ramada,” he sings.
Those roots can also be heard on the Motown vibe of “Try Again.” The stripped down and slowed production style alongside Moore’s whiskey soaked vocals brings to mind a song the Temptations or Otis Redding could have cut in the ’60s. “To the moon and back / Through the highs and lows / To win your love, girl just know / I’ll try, try, try, then I’ll try again,” he croons.
Later, on the anthemic “Plead the Fifth,” Moore hints at his affection for a girl without completely owning up to it. Written by Luke Dick and Josh Kear, the clever wordplay has Moore telling a girl she can ask him anything, but he’s pleading the fifth. “Go ahead ask anything you want / Do I miss you, I can’t say I don’t / Put me on trial but I won’t tell / If I want you and I always will,” he sings. The Springsteen-esque track will no doubt be a hit in the live setting with soaring guitar parts and a sing-along chorus.
While the rock-tinged tracks are plenty, so are the poignant ballads. On lead single “More Girls Like You,” the fastest rising song of Moore’s career, the singer’s romantic side is showcased. Singing of the hope to settle down, “grab a piece of land and raise a few more girls like you,” Moore reveals his willingness to tap into vulnerable territory. On “Fast Women” he gets even more introspective as he discusses a lonely life on the road while his friends are starting families. “Well all of my buddies, yeah, they’re settling down / Laying deep roots in them no name towns / They got kids, and one day I want kids,” he reflects.
Other highlights include “Blonde,” where he touches upon our ever present social media culture. In the song, one woman goes so far as changing her name, hair and lips for a chance in the spotlight. “You can chase the lights / You can chase the fame / Used to be the captain of the cheer team / Now you’re just the never coming homecoming queen,” he comments. “The Bull,” meanwhile, also strikes a chord and is a bold song for those who choose to persevere despite the many obstacles thrown in their path. “Every knock down in the dirt / Every no I ever heard / It’ll sure feel good to laugh when I look back and flip the bull the bird,” he belts.
While each of the 13 tracks give a closer look into Moore, it’s on album closer “Guitar Man” that best showcases the singer’s depth as a person and as a songwriter. Penned with frequent collaborators Dan Couch (“Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck,” “Hey Pretty Girl”) and Westin Davis (“I’m To Blame,” “That Was Us”), “Guitar Man” has Moore sharing the struggles the life of a musician can bring. He laments of once having a girlfriend in Georgia who made him choose between her and his music. “She’s back in Georgia and I’m here with you,” he sings. The stripped down track also shares the joys: “The fruits of my labor / Is when the crowd sings along,” he concedes.
With an album this good, Moore’s fans will surely be singing along loudly.