ToC Critic’s Pick: Kip Moore, ‘Slowheart’
Kip Moore's Slowheart is a Southern rock-inspired country album that would sound just fine played front to back at his live show.
The singer simplified his approach, even if the result is a more textured project than Wild Ones (2015). Gone is that veil of sadness that tied his sophomore album together. Instead, you sense that Moore's band was as free to rock out in studio as they felt necessary. Everyone is having a lot more fun on Slowheart, even if the lyrics don't always support the party.
It's Kip Moore, so love lost and reflections on the choices he's made in life come standard. "Plead the Fifth" and "Bittersweet Company" are two that wonder "How the hell did we / turn into bittersweet company," with "Sunburn" and "Try Again" doing likewise with a smile.
"I've Been Around" and "Good Thing" are truly fresh to Moore's catalog. He's making fun of his own success during the irresistible rocker. His bassman bounces to his own melody as the singer professes, "I've been a lot places / Kissed a lot of faces / Every city, every town / Kind of like the wind / Ask me where I've been / I've tell you that I've been around."
"Good Thing" is Moore reincarnating Sam Cooke, something he hinted at on Wild Ones, but he stopped short of capturing the joy of good love. "I've got a good thing, and I call her baby," he sings. There's nothing poetic about that simple sentiment, but nothing on this album is weakened by lack of metaphor.
"The Bull" is probably the most satisfying musical moment on this album (whomever plays that guitar lick needs a year-end bonus), but "Guitar Man" is the one Moore hopes you'll love most. That's a difficult ask after 12 songs that are anything but moody. Verse after verse tells his version of the Nashville story. It was fraught with heartbreak and two-dollar stages and required that he drive a beat-up truck into the ground and watch lover after lover leave when he spurned the ultimatum. Steel guitar and organ dominate this sparse track that stands out like an old magnolia tree in a garden of young rose bushes. This out of place finish serves as a reminder that just as you think you've got the 37-year-old figured out, day will become night once again.
Key Tracks: "I've Been Around," "The Bull," "Good Thing," "Guitar Man"
Did You Know?: For the first time ever Moore recorded a song he didn't write. In fact, he cut two ("Plead the Fifth" and "The Bull") co-written by Luke Dick.
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