If the first single from his forthcoming album is any indication of what to expect, Justin Moore’s career is continuing to head in the right direction. ‘If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away,’ a song recorded by Rhett Akins back in 2001, has become Moore’s fastest rising single to date, already in the Top 20 after only six weeks of being on the charts. The tune showcases a softer side of the Arkansas native who topped the charts in 2009 with ‘Small Town U.S.A.,’ and then followed up with the upbeat ‘Backwoods,’ which peaked at No. 6. ‘If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away,’ however, almost got overlooked for Moore’s sophomore album, ‘Outlaws Like Me.’

“I thought we were done with the album,” Moore tells Taste of Country. “We were looking for a first single, and my producer sent me ‘If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away.’ He said, ‘Hey man … you remember this song? I wish we would have cut this.’ I remembered hearing it back when Rhett did it. I told my producer I had to have the song on the album because I loved it so much. I took it to the label, and they thought I was crazy to want to go back into the studio to record another song because the album was basically done. Thank goodness they let me do that, and thank goodness everybody is loving it just as much as we do. I’m really, really excited. I think it completed the album and added a different dimension to it.”

As Moore headed into the studio to begin work on ‘Outlaws Like Me,’ he had a sense of confidence rather than worrying about the famous “sophomore slump” that many artists face after having such a successful first album.

“I don’t really think about that kind of stuff,” Moore says. “I probably should [laughs]! Obviously being out on the road, I get to play songs live at my shows, and I can tell what people like. I know who our fan base is, and I know who I am. We’re honestly the same people. I just have a really cool job. With that being said, I didn’t really over-think the process. I knew what I was going for. I knew what kind of album I wanted to make.”

Moore nailed what he was going for on ‘Outlaws Like Me,’ including the album’s title track, which happens to be one of the songs on the album that he co-wrote.

“It’s probably my favorite song that I’ve ever written,” Moore notes. “Being a Christian and growing up in a town of 300 people and doing this for a living, it’s not always easy to be as good a Christian as you want to be or as you once were. This song really helped me be a better person, and that’s kind of my goal for this song for everybody. When they hear it, I hope it makes them be a better person.”

The song selection on the new album shows plenty of growth for the 27-year-old singer who has been through many ups and downs since the release of his debut self-titled album two years ago. On February 11, 2010, Moore became a first-time father to daughter Ella Kole, which came only a few months after the loss of his beloved grandfather.

“I think the songwriting on this album is a lot better as far as content,” says Moore. “I’ve obviously grown as a person and becoming a dad. I’ve been doing this for longer, and anything you do you get better at … or you’re probably not doing the right thing [laughs]! I’ve grown as a person, so I’ve obviously grown as a songwriter and as an artist.”

But fans can still expect to hear more of the singer’s “attitude songs” on ‘Outlaws Like Me,’ similar to the tunes that peppered his first album.

“I had songs like ‘I Could Kick Your Ass’ on the first album that’s huge for us,” Moore says. “Live, we play that song after ‘Small Town U.S.A.,’ which kind of shows you how crazy that song has gotten for us … we play it after a No. 1 song in our show! We have a couple of songs like that on this new album. One is called ‘If You Don’t Like My Twang’ and the other’s called ‘Gun.’ It definitely has that kind of stuff on there, but there’s also some honesty. There are a few more love songs on this record, but they’re not the cheesy ‘the moon and the stars and your eyes’ kind of songs [laughs]. They’re still what we do."

"I also think this record is a little more country, which people look at me like I’ve got two heads when I say that," Moore says with a smile. "I’ve always said that I’m a big Southern rock fan as well as traditional country, and I think the last album had a few more Southern rock sounding songs than the new one. I think the new one leans a little bit more toward traditional country.”

While no release date for 'Outlaws Like Me' has been scheduled, Moore says to look for it to arrive in stores some time this summer. “I’m just really, really excited about this album,” Moore says proudly. “I think it’s a better album and much more diverse album than the first one, and I love our first album. I feel like we laid a good foundation with it. I’ve said in the past that it’s important to me that people know who I am as a person, and I think we did that. Now, that opens us up to being able to do some different stuff now that they know who I am and know my personality a little better.”

Moore is gearing up to hit the road with Rascal Flatts on their Flatts Fest Tour, which kicks off in June and runs through September. The tour will also feature special guests Sara Evans and Easton Corbin.

Watch Justin Moore Perform 'If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away'