This week’s spin comes from Justin Moore. Over the past decade, the Arkansas native and multiplatinum-selling country star — signed to The Valory Music Co., an imprint of the Big Machine Label Group — has racked up more than a billion on-demand streams, performances on Kimmel and the Today show, and tour dates alongside Trace Adkins, Luke Bryan, Brooks & Dunn, ZZ Top, Hank Williams Jr., Brad Paisley and more.
Via his “traditional Country” persona, signature white cowboy hat and raucous live show, the singer-songwriter has delivered three No. 1 albums — 2016’s Kinda Don’t Care, 2013’s Off the Beaten Path and 2009’s Justin Moore — as well as seven No. 1 singles including “You Look Like I Need a Drink,” “Somebody Else Will,” “Small Town USA” and more.
Next up, the 2013 ACM new artist of the year winner’s fifth studio LP, Late Nights and Longnecks, is set for release Friday, helmed alongside longtime co-producer Jeremy Stover and Big Machine Label Group president/CEO Scott Borchetta. The new album comes on the heels of a busy summer for the singer, whose recent performances include a set at the National Memorial Day Concert on PBS in May, followed by stops at Ohio’s The Country Fest, Wisconsin’s Country USA and Illinois’ Black Road Music Festival, as well as an intimate performance and Q&A at the Grammy Museum for its “The Drop” series at Los Angeles’ L.A. Live.
To fete his new LP, Moore put together this week’s #TBT Mixtape to showcase the “straight country” anthems that first attracted him to the genre growing up.
“Everyone has their own opinion of what ‘country music’ sounds like. This list is mine,” Moore says of the set, which includes tracks by Alabama, Alan Jackson, George Strait, The Judds and more. “They stand out, mostly to me, because these are the songs I grew up on. They’re the songs that made me fall in love with country music.”
While it’s not likely any of the picks will surprise fans, Moore adds that the playlist highlights the overall strategy for the LP as a whole — “to make the most traditional [sounding] album yet.” Recorded at historic The Castle studio in Nashville, frequented by country legends like Merle Haggard, Alan Jackson, George Jones and more, the album featured an all-star band of Grammy- and CMA-winning guitarist Brent Mason, ACM winner Paul Franklin and others. “I’ve always said the fans want to know who you are as a person, more so than what you sound like. I’ve always tried to provide that insight with my music, and I think it has contributed to my longevity.”
Give the playlist a spin and also check out some retro snaps of the artist below.
As done on prior albums, Moore and producer Jeremy Stover returned to his family vacation property in Destin, Fla., for beachside writing sessions. “Jeremy and I called a handful of the guys we love and are buddies with and kind of locked ourselves in my beach house and drank beer and wrote songs,” says Moore. “I believe different settings breed creativity. Places where you feel relaxed do the same. Seeing as how that’s my zen place, it was a perfect place to write the album.”
Before Moore ever inked a recording contract, the seaside town served as his go-to oasis for creative activation. “We’d pop down to the beach and write for three or four days at a time. I wanted to reconnect with that spirit, so I said, ‘Let’s go work down there again like we used to 10, 12 years ago,’” adds Moore. “I’m not a ‘Make an appointment and come in at 10 a.m.’ kind of guy. My style is more, ‘When it hits you, write it.’”
Led by tongue-in-cheek anthem “Why We Drink,” the LP includes more than a few nods to booze, and the various reasons we grab for the bottle. “Drinking has always been a part of country music on both sides of the coin,” says Moore, “out of sadness and out of fun. There’s no shortage of either on this record,” citing cuts like “Never Gonna Drink Again,”“Airport Bar,” “Jesus and Jack Daniels” and more.
The artist makes time for reflection elsewhere on the set, and dedicates “The Ones That Didn’t Make It Back Home” to those he’s lost. “One night it hit me that that needed to be its own song. It’s fun to have hit records and all that, but the thing I’m most proud of as an artist is when I hear from people that the songs I sing helped them get through a difficult time in their life,” says Moore. “I hope this song can have that kind of impact.”
Moore is currently in the midst of his Late Nights & Longnecks Tour, which runs through October. “Not only is this my best album, it was the most fun I’ve ever had making a record,” he says. “That’s the whole reason I got into this business in the first place.”