Monday, June 20, 2011

Moore, Please

Justin Moore: God Bless Outlaws Like Him

When Justin Moore poses the request that "God bless outlaws like me" on his second album to be released June 21, 2011, he touches perhaps unwittingly, upon a topic that has laid at the intersection of theology and jurisprudence since men wore togas and the only fraternity they belonged to had nothing whatsoever to do with higher education.

To be an outlaw, in the original sense of the word, was to exist outside the law; to be cast out of society to the extent that anyone could hunt you down and kill you with the state (and Church’s) OK. Anyone harboring an outlaw was guilty of aiding and abetting and could be similarly punished, either in the now or the sweet thereafter.  Outlawism was no joke; now, we associate the word (as, The Inky Jukebox suspects, does Justin Moore) with a kind of Wild West figure who eschewed silly laws to live a life of natural, God-given moral and ethical boundaries — but throughout most of recorded history to be declared an outlaw was to be well and truly fucked.

Hence the tricky theological problem: by imploring God’s blessing directly upon an outlaw (who has, by definition been excommunicated from the Church – and therefore subject to being hunted like an animal), the intercessor risks being outlawed themselves. Of course, Justin Moore gets around this problem like a genius: he asks God’s blessing upon himself, thereby saving his friends.

This is just as well, because he put his band mates through some funny-ass promotional videos in the weeks leading up to the album’s June 21 release.

The Inky Jukebox has been waiting for Justin Moore’s sophomore album for a long time. Well, ever since his self-titled first album came out two years ago. We were ardently hoping that this new record would be half as good, and are delighted to say that it more than lives up to the high expectations we had. In interviews, Moore delivers the same thing you hear again and again from artists doing promotional junkets: this album has something new for the fans / something for everyone; it’s even more country than the last record; I’m really proud of it, etc. This made The Inky Jukebox nervous to be honest. One of the things that has surprised us the most is that the songs themselves, when heard in their entirety, are better than the snippets released so far suggest they will be. Is it a “better” record than his first? No: it is absolutely as good, which is saying something, because The Inky Jukebox plays it more than any other.

Each one of these 13 songs is a winner. They draw upon a similar set of topics that defined the first album, any of which will be familiar to any country fan; only now, Moore can and does write about being Justin Moore, Nashville Star, rather than Justin Moore, Regular Joe. Whereas before he wrote about Hanking It, opening for Hank Williams Jr. in Hershey PA and catching his show from out in the crowd, now he can sing about shooting the bull with Bocephus before he climbs up on his jet. He even has the cajones to reference his own celebrity when he says that “they love it down in small town USA” in “If You Don’t Like My Twang.” Will we forgive him? Hells yes: the guy’s got “Guns.”

Speaking of which, The Inky Jukebox loves that Moore does not shy away from singing about the Second Amendment (or his willingness to kick your ass), a move that has earned him a place in the NRACountry firmament. (Just don’t break into his house, y’all.)

The Inky Jukebox also likes it when Moore sexes it up, something he seems wont to do in the bed of his truck, if you go by the lyrics of the two love ballads “Like There’s No Tomorrow” and “Bed of My Chevy.” Both involve some tailgate loving under the stars, though the earlier song’s raunchier lyric takes us further into that fantasy than the tamer “Bed Of My Chevy.”

Moore saves the best for last, however, and is rightly proud of having written a very fine song in the title track, “Outlaws Like Me.” The album is worth buying for the first verse alone, which makes a simple and plain-spoken lyric out of doing what country writers do best: bending words like notes to fit their needs.

I’ve been a rough houser
A good time sleep arounder
A straight up whiskey pounder
Til I don’t know my name
I’ve been a church goer
A front pew Bible holder
A cry on my  Mama’s shoulder
When she saw me change
But each day’s a choice of which one I’m gonna be
God bless outlaws like me

Which brings us inexorably back to our opening dilemma: what is an outlaw, and is Justin Moore really one? According to him, an outlaw is someone who can’t decide what sort of man he’s going to be from one day to the next, like a man being slapped on both cheeks by the angel and devil riding each shoulder. In this case, his plea to the Almighty is for constancy, consistency, and commitment.

The Inky Jukebox thinks that if this album is any indication, his prayer has been answered by a deity who knows a good thing when he hears it and administers blessings accordingly.

Buy this album NOW.
Here is his livestream from New York's Central Park from June 20th 2011.
There will be live music June 21st at 4 pm.

Watch live streaming video from justinmoore at

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