An album has been a long time coming for Riley Moore.
The Nashville native’s Vagrant — a wide-ranging Americana effort due out July 6 and premiering exclusively below — is the product of worldwide journeys before returning home to work on it in earnest almost a year ago. And each of its eight tracks represent different way stations on a journey that’s taken him as far away as Australia (where he wrote the sentimental “Pancake & M&M’s” eight years ago) and Europe to university studies in Tennessee and Alabama and on a 2015 walking/performing tour from Maine to Nashville.
“These songs ware spread out over a long period of time as far as when they were written and the seasons they were written about. They come from very specific life experiences I’ve had and that mean things to me,” Moore tells Billboard. “It’s been about a nine-year period. I almost see this album as a birth, like it’s been in my womb for nine years. So it’s taken a long time, but it feels pretty great to have it finished.”
Being mobile, meanwhile, is a state of being for Moore, creatively and otherwise. “I haven’t been able to sit still for the past nine years,” says Moore, who also works as a real estate agent lives on a sailboat anchored on the shores of the Cumberland River. “I think I’ve moved every other year — cities or states, or countries, and traveled a lot as well. I definitely grew up in a stable home in Nashville, with a great family, but when I was 18 I just wanted to leave so I went to Australia and then decided I wanted to become a songwriter and felt like I should move back to Nashville. So I made my way back — slowly, but back.”
From its abundance of countrified moments to the more ambient “Wax Museum,” R.E.M.-y “Amish Annie,” the Jimmy Buffett-worthy “Sitting On a Boat,” Moore’s Vagrant tells his tales with a cinematic lyrical depth drawn from an array of influences. “I Love You” in particularly nods to Bob Dylan. “It’s funny; I hated country music before I moved to Australia,” Moore — who caught the music bug at age seven, when his father took him to an Amy Grant recording session — says. “Growing up in Nashville, I just had no taste for it. But when I was in Australia people began to associate me with it — ‘Oh, Nashville. Country!’ I was like, ‘Yeah, whatever,’ but I got into Taylor Swift and Garth Brooks during that time and really admired the songwriting in the country world and started to enjoy the art of stringing words together in new ways and maybe saying the same thing people have said many times, but in different ways. It felt like that was something I could do.”
Moore estimates he’s amassed at least 300 songs during his time writing, about 30 of which were considered for Vagrant. With the recording career kick-started, his job now is to keep adding to the tally and making more records. “I’m bursting to move forward and create new songs,” Moore says. “I think this is a really good album, and I think what I do after this is going to be much better — maybe that’s a crazy thing to say right now, but that’s how I feel. This process has taught me a lot about what it means to do a body of work, and I can see myself thinking about writing sons with that mindset, which isn’t something I’ve done before. So I’m just really excited about future writing.”