Kip Moore

Kip Moore

Stephen Shepherd

Kip Moore is hoping for a spring release for his sophomore album, which the country hitmaker promises will "only be stronger" than his 2012 debut, "Up All Night."

"It's a very, very intense record," Moore tells Billboard. "I feel like the first one, once you got past 'Somethin' 'Bout a Truck' and 'Beer Money,' there was a lot of nostalgia and reminiscing. It was kinda moody and ambient. This one is intense. There's more gritty guitar tones. It speaks more to the present, where the last one was more of a looking-back record. I feel like I cover better topics than I did on the first one, too. It's not going to be for everybody, but I think the fans of what we've been doing are gonna love it."

The new tact? "I've always wanted to focus a lot on blue collar America," Moore explains. "I watched my dad just work so hard, man, for so little and really scrape to get us by. We had six kids and I really got to see the struggle. I wrote a song ('Comeback Kid') really speaking to those people doing the daily grind, getting by, with big families -- the construction workers, the factory workers, those kind of people. I wrote that for them, straight to the heart. I had to bump one (song) I felt was more personal for that one, but it had to go on there."

Moore -- whose songs were recorded by Thompson Square and James Wesley before "Up All Night" came out -- says he actually wrote another new song in addition to "Comeback Kid" that's sending him back into the studio in January to "change it up a little bit." Meanwhile, fans are making due with the new album's first single, "Young Love," which came out just before Thanksgiving. 

"We really wanted to capture the recklessness and the innocence of being young -- the no fear, us against the world kind of thing," says Moore, who co-wrote the track with Dan Couch and Weston Davis. "You get older and a little crusty about life, a little jaded and cynical, and the recklessness and openness to be with someone fades a little. But we all still desire that. So we tried to capture that and also write about people that stuck with that and actually made it to the other side. The song kind of ends up that you don't know whether they're still together or not, but they're together in that moment." 

Moore will be supporting Lady Antebellum's early 2014 dates, starting Jan. 10 in Peoria. But he's hoping the sophomore album will lift him yet another rung on the Nashville ladder. 

"I definitely feel a little bit more relevant now," he says. "I don't measure what's going on against other people I stuff; I measure more on the crowds that are showing up, the fans we're winning. We've been a band for a long time and been out their grinding our asses off. We can see the growth in the crowds and the excitement in the crowds. That's how I measure everything. We played to so many empty bars for so long, and now we're finally breaking through, so I feel like it wasn't all in vain -- and I'm grateful."

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