Album Review: Justin Moore – Justin Moore
Jason Aldean should be afraid—very, very afraid.
On Justin Moore’s self-titled debut album, the Poyen, Arkansas (Population: 272) native effectively out Jason Aldeans Aldean himself, pulling off his brand of twangy, down-on-the-farm roots and rock influences with a country authenticity more capably than any other country up-and-comer at the moment.
Moore, who co-wrote nine of the album’s 10 songs, has organically dialed into a market of musical fans with backgrounds very similar to his own, racking up more than 200,000 song downloads before the record even went on sale. On top of that, barring radio censorship of the album’s matter-of-fact offering “I Could Kick Your Ass,” each and every song is 100% radio ready.
These numbers can be attributed to the consistency of the two singles that preceded the album, “Back That Thing Up,” an innuendo-laden look at life on the farm, and “Small Town USA,” a genuine—if not inoffensive and devoid of creativity—look at small-town life. Fortunately and unfortunately, depending on whether or not you fall into Moore’s main demographic, the rest of the songs on Justin Moore are exactly like these lead-off singles.
Moore works his way through the same song about five different times, with little of the album’s material deviating from his (admittedly well-crafted and performed) country boy routine. This works best when Moore uses his outstanding vocal ability to offer insight into exactly what kind of country boy he is, beyond the clichés that play starring roles in the five million other “I’m Country” country songs that exist.
The most engaging moments on the record’s best tracks rely on important details that obviously matter to Moore, whether it’s guns (when he recounts a favorite present in the touching “Grandpa”), girls (his voice swells convincingly on “Like There’s No Tomorrow”) or attempted musical glory (The comical “Hank It” scores the best lyrical line with “There was a smoking little blond sitting next to me…She must’ve been late and missed my show/But when you play at 7:00 that’s the way it goes”). These moments are real, and it shows.
Conversely, when Moore abuses those authentic qualities and shouts about his love of all things country just a little too loud, things start to derail. The cacophonous “Backwoods” suffers this fate, between its aggressive mash-up of gun racks, buck knives, hunting and hollers and ”Work hard/Play hard/Hold my baby tight” mantra. It’s the exact same song as “Small Town USA,” only with a jarring guitar solo. “Good Ole American Way” takes a hard line lyrical approach that also comes on a bit strong, complete with a Jimmy Hendrix-esque “Star Spangled Banner” jam at the end: “Don’t believe in politically correct/If you want a piece of me you better have a set/A rifle and a four-wheel drive is all I need.”
Between the animal sounds and farm references, Justin Moore could sonically give the Old McDonald Greatest Hits album a run for its money, and doesn’t provide many glimpses of artistic versatility. On top of those things, however, it is also a solid debut effort from an artist who knows himself, knows his way of life and, perhaps most importantly, knows his fans.
- Paul W Dennis: Tom T & Dixie Hall are good people and I wish them all the best through this difficult time
- Paul W Dennis: Actually , it is not. We have so thoroughly debased our language that it is no longer possible to praise …
- Leeann Ward: Sheesh, Paul, that's a random/strange dig!
- Jack Williams: After reading that New Yorker article, I canceled my pre-order of the Basement Tapes box set. I love Bob …
- Leeann Ward: Wow! How terrible for Dixie Hall and Tom.
- Ken Morton, Jr.: Another twisted collection of songs to put into the Friday Five Hall of Fame, Juli.
- Arlene: I'd have included "Omie Wise." Doc Watson's is the version I'm familiar with but I think it's been recorded by …
- luckyoldsun: I think the number one country murder ballad is "Frankie and Johnny"--by Jimmie. Also, how about "Delia's Gone" from Harry Belafonte …
- Juli Thanki: Colloquial use of "fantastic" as a synonym for "excellent" dates back to the 1930s. And if it's good enough for …
- Paul W Dennis: I think "Banks of The Ohio", "Miller's Cave" and "It's Nothing to Me" are far creepier than several of the …