Album Review: Justin Moore – Justin Moore

Karlie Justus | August 13th, 2009

justin-moore-justin-mooreJason Aldean should be afraid—very, very afraid.

On Justin Moore’s self-titled debut album, the Poyen, Arkansas (Population: 272) native effectively out Jason Aldeans Aldean himself, pulling off his brand of twangy, down-on-the-farm roots and rock influences with a country authenticity more capably than any other country up-and-comer at the moment.

Moore, who co-wrote nine of the album’s 10 songs, has organically dialed into a market of musical fans with backgrounds very similar to his own, racking up more than 200,000 song downloads before the record even went on sale. On top of that, barring radio censorship of the album’s matter-of-fact offering “I Could Kick Your Ass,” each and every song is 100% radio ready.

These numbers can be attributed to the consistency of the two singles that preceded the album, “Back That Thing Up,” an innuendo-laden look at life on the farm, and “Small Town USA,” a genuine—if not inoffensive and devoid of creativity—look at small-town life. Fortunately and unfortunately, depending on whether or not you fall into Moore’s main demographic, the rest of the songs on Justin Moore are exactly like these lead-off singles.

Moore works his way through the same song about five different times, with little of the album’s material deviating from his (admittedly well-crafted and performed) country boy routine. This works best when Moore uses his outstanding vocal ability to offer insight into exactly what kind of country boy he is, beyond the clichés that play starring roles in the five million other “I’m Country” country songs that exist.

The most engaging moments on the record’s best tracks rely on important details that obviously matter to Moore, whether it’s guns (when he recounts a favorite present in the touching “Grandpa”), girls (his voice swells convincingly on “Like There’s No Tomorrow”) or attempted musical glory (The comical “Hank It” scores the best lyrical line with “There was a smoking little blond sitting next to me…She must’ve been late and missed my show/But when you play at 7:00 that’s the way it goes”). These moments are real, and it shows.

Conversely, when Moore abuses those authentic qualities and shouts about his love of all things country just a little too loud, things start to derail. The cacophonous “Backwoods” suffers this fate, between its aggressive mash-up of gun racks, buck knives, hunting and hollers and ”Work hard/Play hard/Hold my baby tight” mantra. It’s the exact same song as “Small Town USA,” only with a jarring guitar solo. “Good Ole American Way” takes a hard line lyrical approach that also comes on a bit strong, complete with a Jimmy Hendrix-esque “Star Spangled Banner” jam at the end: “Don’t believe in politically correct/If you want a piece of me you better have a set/A rifle and a four-wheel drive is all I need.”

Between the animal sounds and farm references, Justin Moore could sonically give the Old McDonald Greatest Hits album a run for its money, and doesn’t provide many glimpses of artistic versatility. On top of those things, however, it is also a solid debut effort from an artist who knows himself, knows his way of life and, perhaps most importantly, knows his fans.

3 Stars

  1. Drew
    August 13, 2009 at 9:30 am

    “and doesn’t provide many glimpses of artistic versatility”

    That’s exactly what I came away with. Same thing over and over again.

  2. Pierce
    August 13, 2009 at 9:39 am

    So, last year some kids knocked on my dorm room door and lured me with pizza to take a survey on a new artist. They were music business students and involved in promotion.

    I listened to samples of 3 songs. “I Could Kick Your Ass”, “Back That Thang Up” and “Small Town USA”. I rated them each, giving the first two a 3/10 and STU a 7/10. I told them STU should be a single.

    So, therefore, I’m taking all the credit for his success. Justin, you are welcome.

  3. Stone Ln
    August 13, 2009 at 9:46 am

    Thanks for the review! I haven’t been this curious about a mainstream country artist since Miranda Lambert. There is something about Moore that interests me. Although “Small Town USA” doesn’t blow me away and it’s just like many of the other songs on the radio today, I think he’s sincere.
    I know I would be murdering Rascal Flatts if they sang “Back That Thing Up,” but I’m in “wait and see mode” when it comes to Moore.
    He does remind me of everything Jason Aldean was suppose to be.
    I’ve put off getting the album mostly cause I’ve been listening to G. Strait, but there wasn’t anything too bad in your review to convince me not to buy it. Anyways, it would be nice to add some new blood to my collection. Thanks!

  4. Brady Vercher
    August 13, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Good job on the intro. I never made the connection between Moore and Aldean, but it works. This one only ranks as a deuce for me. While Moore’s personality may comes across as sincere, his artistic direction seems wholly manufactured.

    I dunno if it was brought up in the “Back That Thing Up Review,” but what’s up with Randy Houser and butt songs.

  5. Rick
    August 13, 2009 at 11:09 am

    The CMT blog has been spotlighting an album cut each day from “Justin Moore” so I’d guess there is payola involved! (lol) I bought a label sampler CD months ago that included “I Could Kick Your Ass” and its an okay song. Maybe they could substitute “butt” for a radio edit version?

    Justin performed munerous times on the Thursday night “Classic Country” Opry shows earlier this year and he really doesn’t have much of a singing voice. His vocals are passable live, and he kicks Sucky Covington’s ass in that regard, but when he sings classic country songs he tends to fall flat.

    Justin is not a major talent, kind of like Luke Bryan, but he’s more listenable than Jason Aldean. I wish him well in building a “bubba” fan base.

    PS to Brady: Did Randy Houser have anything to do with writing Fast Ryde’s “That Thang”? Da dang dang…

  6. Matt B.
    August 13, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    No Rick, Randy didn’t but Randy and Jamey Johnson wrote “My Cowboy” with pop/country singer Jessie James for her album.

  7. Chris N.
    August 13, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    I asked Randy about that very topic a few months ago, and I was amused by his response: “Somebody’s got to be the ass man in Nashville.”

  8. Joe
    August 13, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Sold!

    I found “Small Town USA” to be derivative (no surprise) but not offensively cliched, so I was on the fence unti I read these words…

    “a solid debut effort from an artist who knows himself, knows his way of life and, perhaps most importantly, knows his fans.”

    Sure, he’s gotta sell-out a bit, in order to get those first couple hits, but at this point I’m willing to buy ANYTHING from “an artist who knows himself” … heck, that’s all we can ask for, isn’t it?

  9. stormy
    August 13, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    No Rick, Randy didn’t but Randy and Jamey Johnson wrote “My Cowboy” with pop/country singer Jessie James for her album.

  10. stormy
    August 13, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Everytime I want to like Jamey he pulls something like that.

  11. Baron Lane
    August 13, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    “…each and every song is 100% radio ready.”

    you mean they suck? ;)

  12. Charlie
    August 13, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    anybody that doesn’t think “grandpa” is a great country song is an idiot

  13. Karlie Justus
    August 13, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    “…each and every song is 100% radio ready.”

    you mean they suck? ;)

    Ha–I meant they’re well packaged, ready for mass consumption/broad appeal and very commercial. Take that how you will. ;)

  14. CraigR.
    August 13, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Justin Moore has a good voice if he can focus it. I find all of his songs immature, boyish, and ill-written. But his voice has a real bite to it. It is sad that he thinks that his audience is too stupid to want something more than guns, hot girls, and small town values. That need to connect to those ideas lost me. If he sang about small town life in better detail I would be impressed. I saw him last night on GAC Nights and he didn’t sound like the brightest man in the world. Maybe that is why he can’t write a great song. But I like his voice and if he can move pass the small town country God-fearing boy world he might have a career.

  15. Karlie Justus
    August 13, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    By the way, he seems like a pretty funny dude from these “My Crib” videos he did with his record label: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbBtmNhNYW0

  16. plain_jo
    August 13, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    LOL yeah I saw the crib videos. Hilarious!

  17. Clemson Brad
    August 13, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    I really really like Justin Moore. I agree that the album is simply good, not great, but enjoyable. Three stars is a perfect rating for it.

    I don’t think Moore sounds like Aldean…but more like Rhett Akins. He puts on a great live show though…Hope his second album is just a little more unique.

  18. Steve Harvey
    August 13, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    That cover photo even looks like Jason Aldean (after a few months in the gym).

  19. James S.
    August 13, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    I think he has a good voice, too, but none of the singles have interested me thus far. Doesn’t sound like there’s much else to make me want to pick it up.

  20. Stephen
    August 14, 2009 at 9:57 am

    I dunno…….I guess I’m just simple, but I never get tired of small-town, gun shootin, tobacco spittin country songs. I like his voice, and his songs. If you want something that is “deep”…read some shakespeare.

  21. Hubba
    August 16, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    “Between the animal sounds and farm references, Justin Moore could sonically give the Old Mcdonald Greatest Hits album a run for it’s money…”
    Damn you Karlie, for making me laugh that hard

  22. Will
    August 17, 2009 at 11:54 am

    I think Justin has done something that the majority of country fans want from an album, we’ve all bought cds and been completely dissappointed with the cd being 3 singles and 7 lame ballads. Justin has just given fans and radio what they want, and with being a marketing professional by day, it’s nice to see someone do what their fans want. In the end, we all love an artist growing and showing his versatility, but sometimes we just find out they suck at ballads and other styles (see: Aldean, Jason).

    Also should note this tracklist was the result of the “So you want to be a record label” promotion where fans voted on the tracks they thought should be on the cd and the 10 songs with the most votes made the cut.

  23. Todd
    August 18, 2009 at 12:42 am

    I haven’t bought this album yet but a friend of mine did and I got to listen to it all the way through and was more impressed than I thought I’d be. Most of the songs were solid at least, but they were all way to similar in style. His country/rock style probably makes for a very good concert experience, but if he can’t prove he’s more than a one trick pony my fear is people will get burnt out on his stuff pretty quickly (Much like what happened with Gretchen Wilson).

  24. Wade Patry
    August 20, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    I love this Album.

    “No Tomorrow” is a great song, and “I Could Kick Your Ass” is fun to sing along too.

    Being Canadian, “Small Town USA” and “Good Ole American Way” don’t mean much to me, but still worth a listen.

    Not a fan of “Back That Thing Up”, but I really like “The Only Place That I Call Home”.

  25. chase
    August 1, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    anyone who dont like justin moore is a damn idiot! he is gonna save country music from goin pop like it mostly has! hank sure would be proud! may the C.S.A rise again!

  26. Chris N.
    August 1, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Excuse me? May the what rise again?

  27. Jon
    August 1, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Surely it’s Community Supported Agriculture.

  28. B-Dub
    April 2, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    Honestly, I think that Justin is literally the best new artist of the 2000s and the greatest as a new-comer yet. Backwoods- top10 favorite songs.

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