Country music is consistently producing new additions to develop the face of its style, and Justin Moore is healthfully contributing.
Sadly, country albums are starting to lean more towards pop, which by no means is terrible, they are just very much alike and off track from the country roads. This genre has been made special by the up and coming artists, but now a majority of them are ignoring the original spirit. In Kinda Don’t Care’s deluxe edition, Moore spices up his southern songwriting by combining country with rock to contract a “give everything you’ve got” vibe while still remaining true to a country sound in his 16 songs.
The presence of rock is immediately felt in “Robbin’ Trains” through the hammering of drums and the shredding of an electric guitar. Rock elements energize the melody and transfer the chorus of “If it was a hundred years ago/We’d be the ones on the wanted posters/Dead or alive in a dozen states/Shootin’ whiskey in one horse towns/Saddlin’ up when the sun went down/Haulin’ ass out of some open plain/Yeah, raisin’ hell and robbin’ trains” into a western, high noon showdown feeling. Kinda Don’t Care’s title track also utilizes rock and roll elements to convey the message of letting go of all responsibilities at the conclusion of a busy day to relax. Tempo shifts in the drums and key changes in the guitars further add to the uniqueness of the rock with country elements and they provide listeners with something different throughout the song. One other rock-filled piece is “Rebel Kids”, which combines on-again-off-again chord plucks of the guitars and the clashing of cymbals in the verses. This further provides contrast with the chorus, which has a classic guitar and drum melody with an extra taste of guitar solos.
Moore’s music also enables listeners to hear emotional stories of the heart. In “Pick-Up Lines” he tastefully describes a romantic night with a woman in which lyrics “Could’ve been the right song came on the radio/The first time she got to drive off road/And got her holdin’ on to me that night” depict an adventure that resulted in romance. The music isn’t extremely complex, thus enabling audiences to listen closer to the story and appreciate the grit in Moore’s vocals. “Spendin’ the Night” also contains a special message of a relationship beginning to spark as a guy convinces his girlfriend to stay the night with him. His riffs, combined with those of his female background singer, correlate wonderfully with the background base and electric guitars. “Put Me in a Box”, the second of the 16 songs on Kinda Don’t Care, is the final piece of the emotional category of the record. It is the only song on the entire album to start with singing as opposed to guitars or drums, which establishes a sense of seriousness and sincerity. Despite the static elements clashing with the instruments, Moore sings about a topic in which a guy met a girl who changed his entire life.
Kinda Don’t Care also presents a few pieces which stand apart from the others for all the wrong reasons. “Hell On a Highway” and “Somebody Else Will” both begin with overly synthesized elements which contrast the theme of purity in the album. Often times throughout my reviews, I do tend to dock points for synthesizers if they go against the flow and consistency of other songs in the album or genre. “More Middle Fingers” featuring Brantley Gilbert is a jam session duet, which wouldn’t be so bad if the harmonies weren’t filled with growling conflicting tempos. Gilbert and Moore sound fine together, unfortunately they made different vocal decisions in the high parts of the harmonies. Another laid back themed piece is “Middle Class Money”. This song begins with the crackling of fire, whistling, and a harmonica. Just your average campfire sing-along, right? Not exactly. Elements in this four-minute production such as the drums take away from the environment that the beginning created. As weird as this may sound, the only other aspect of this song that did not sound pleasing to me were the lyrics. The singing was not an issue, but the lyrics were super odd. Not much of a story was told and nothing unique or special was changed with any of the melody.
Justin Moore created a very special country album that definitely could give Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line, or Chris Stapleton a run for their money. If he were to correct his inconsistencies in the album and possible remove “Middle Class Money”, this album would be near perfect. Tilting to rock instead of pop is extremely uncommon of country artists and is without a doubt an admirable quality to hear in a singer. Here’s to hoping the future of country music can steer clear of pop and drive back on the old dirt-paved county roads.
Country I Big Machine Label Group