Kip Moore, "Up All Night" (MCA Nashville)
On his debut album "Up All Night," country music newcomer Kip Moore manages to fit contemporary country music's narrow conventions, yet distinguishes himself with a musical vision of his own.
Aided by producer Brett James, the Georgia native treads familiar territory, singing about home, faith, trucks, beer, good love and living life on his own terms. Yet he makes these overworked themes engaging by matching his hoarse voice with stripped-down roots-rock and lyrics born of experience rather than clichés.
For example, Moore's first hit, "Something 'Bout A Truck," depends on a list of country signifiers, yet Moore's half-spoken vocals set to a bluesy beat and nasty slide guitar turn it into a sexy story about a memorable day with a special woman. Throughout, the arrangements — bare-bones yet carefully constructed — present simple rhythms accented by biting slide guitar or atmospheric use of steel guitar, giving Moore an intelligent, masculine presence that comes across as genuine rather than calculated.
At his best, Moore seems capable of joining the ranks of country stars Dierks Bentley and Eric Church. That's company few Nashville newcomers attain with introductory albums these days.
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: Several current Nashville singers boast about being dangerous rebels, but it comes across as a marketing pose. Moore's "Reckless (Still Growin' Up)" is a swaggering rocker and takes chances few other country stars would dare — and earns its rebellious stripes.