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ToC Critic’s Pick: Kip Moore, ‘Wild Ones’

Wild One Critic's Pick
MCA Nashville

Kip Moore’s Wild Ones is a commanding album. Its light on hooks and many songs aim for a higher common denominator. Listening to his second studio album is an investment, but it’s one that will pay off for most.

Moore understands that some country fans just aren’t going to get him and his brand of outlaw. For those people, the ones looking to snack on something piffling, he offers nothing. Wild Ones is an album for his fans first, and then for anyone looking for a meal.

The production is thin and powerful. Beginning with the title track, Moore relies heavily on moody percussion and thick bass lines. Every song seems to arrive at about the same tempo, and most are guy/girl songs, to some degree. Strong lyrics are overshadowed by his urgency in songs like “Come and Get It” and “What Ya Got on Tonight.” “That Was Us” is a brooding story that recalls Motown during the final chorus. Repeated listens reveal the song’s dark twist:

“Mary Lee started hanging started talking with a boy with a checkered past / It wasn’t long before he showed his true colors and he left her all blue and black / Cops stopped us running 90 with a loaded pistol and a bottle of booze / And it’s a good damn thing the blue lights got us before we did what we was gonna do.”

“Heart’s Desire” is the best song on Wild Ones. Moore’s been called country’s Bruce Springsteen, and that comes through strongest in track eight. A thin guitar riff leads him through his story of love lost:

“Night’s falling on me like a big black coat / Staring through the window at the empty cold / Thick white smoke rolling off my lips / My chest is feeling heavy like a cannonball / Got sweat rolling down me like a waterfall / Because I let love slip through my finger tips,” Moore sings.

The chorus is just two lines forced upon you. It doesn’t take long for one to appreciate the aggression.

“Oo-ooh / Hey hey / I’m a raging fire, you’re my heart’s desire.”

The bluesy “That’s Alright With Me” and garage-rock inspired ballad called “Lipstick” lighten one’s listen, providing momentary breaths before the next breathless moment. Once again Kip Moore has crafted a true album, an art that’s evaporating like morning mist.

The Single

The lead single from the album (available Aug. 21), “I’m to Blame,” serves as a bit of a coming-of-age mini-biography for Moore. The track is soaked with passion and honesty, as it recounts the mistakes he’s made with clarity.

“No, they don’t make guys like me, you get exactly what you see / I come from a long line of bloodline that ain’t gonna change / So, take your pistol-pointing finger right off of the trigger / I know where to aim, hell, I’m to blame,” Moore sings in each chorus.

Fans get to see the rough-around-the-edges and fiery side of the country singer throughout the single. He lets us see who he is without holding much back, and gives us the choice to take it, or leave it. Wild Ones doesn’t include either of the two previously-released singles, “Young Love” and “Dirt Road.”

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The Producer

Moore teamed up with Brett James to produce the project. James and Moore have worked together in the past, including on the production of Up All Night. James also has a couple songwriting credits on the album, including the title track. Moore tells ToC he’s one of the background singers during the Motown part of “That Was Us.”

The Songs

Moore co-wrote every cut included on the project. He called in some of Nashville’s finest for some help, including Chris DeStefano, Troy Verges and Rodney Clawson. The songs for the album came together at soundchecks, in dressing rooms and even in his bunk at night. Included on the record is “Lipstick,” a song that pays homage to the band’s favorite cities to play, and “Comeback Kid,” a softer song that contrasts with rougher parts of the album and encourages the underdog in all of us.

Wild Ones really encompasses everything I’ve been through out on the road since the first album,” Moore says. “I’m so glad that I’m able to finally let the fans know when to expect what we’ve been working on so passionately for the past couple years, to let them know the wait is nearly over.”

Kip Moore, Wild Ones Track Listing:

1. “Wild Ones” (Kip Moore, Chris DeStefano, Brett James)
2. “Come and Get It” (Moore, James, Manny Medina)
3. “Girl of Summer” (Moore, Troy Verges, Blair Daly)
4. “Magic” (Moore, Westin Davis, Luke Dick)
5. “That Was Us” (Moore, Davis, Dan Couch)
6. “Lipstick” (Moore, Justin Weaver, David Frasier, Davis)
7. “What Ya Got on Tonight” (Moore, Verges, Daly)
8. “Heart’s Desire” (Moore, Couch, Adam Browder, Erich Wigdahl)
9. “Complicated” (Moore, DeStefano, Rodney Clawson)
10. “I’m to Blame (Moore, Weaver, Davis)
11. “That’s Alright With Me” (Moore, Couch, Dick)
12. “Running for You” (Moore, Verges, Daly)
13. “Comeback Kid” (Moore, Erik Dylan, Ross Copperman, Jeff Hyde)

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