Saturday, May 14, 2011

Justin Moore: Outlaws Like Him

The Complete Package
(that’s the truth)

It is very tempting to just dive in and say this is a reference to Justin Moore’s midsection (because Holy Crap! Ladies, you know what I’m talking about). Is there another young buck in Country Music who wears the regulation outfit so well? From his hat to his unbuttoned shirt to his belt buckle to his boots, Mr. Moore knows from swagger.

But The Inky Jukebox will resist and talk about what Justin Moore brings to the table in terms of his overall talent as a singer-songwriter instead. His second album, Outlaws Like Me is due out June 21, so this might seem a bit premature. Never mind. Ever since footage of Moore singing the title track surfaced on YouTube, The Inky Jukebox has been blown away by the maturity it reveals about his ability to pen a classic. Not only does it deliver a lyric that is spare while telling a large story, but it allows Moore to showcase his powerful vocal gifts. He claims it’s the song he’s proudest to have written, and he should be.

I’ve been a roughhouser
A good-time sleep-arounder
A straight-up whiskey pounder
Till I don’t know my name

I’ve been a church-goer
A front pew Bible holder
I cried on my Mama’s shoulder
When she saw me change

Each day’s a choice
Which one I’m gonna be
So God Bless Outlaws like me

As far as your standard Country theme goes, it hits all the right notes: it is a confessional, but about topics and behaviors that his audience not only recognizes but lauds. By claiming to be an Outlaw, he’s stepping up to the plate as a man. It’s a masculine song that makes room for tenderness — when he says of his saint/sinner personality “I go back and forth between ‘em / That’s the truth” he sounds like he really means it because of the way he delivers the line, softly, as an aside. This sets him up for being able to take it up a notch to hit the emotional center of the song with real grit and power. The real excitement in this song comes at the end when Moore slays a long note that when he sings it, requires him to open his whole chest up and fling his arms wide, demonstrating for those who might not know that he has the performance chops to match the songs.

When The Inky Jukebox learned that this song was going to anchor the new album, we were very pleased that The Valory Music Co. is throwing their weight behind him by making smart choices. We hope that the recorded version keeps it as simple as the live shows, where Moore is accompanied by a piano and nothing else. The first release from it, “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” is probably not his strongest offering, being a bit of a clichéd nostalgia-fest, but it allows for the possibility of “Outlaws Like Me” the song being released to coincide with the album and propelling what could be an absolutely massive summer hit.

The Inky Jukebox predicts that this song will make folks sit up and pay attention to this down-home “simple American man / with a Southern drawl” who says what he means and means what he says.

And wears his jeans real tight. 

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