REVIEW: Kip Moore – ‘Underground’ EP

unnamed-9I’ve made no secret of my admiration and immense respect for Kip Moore as a man, as a performer and as a true artist since this website was created. Kip is one of a rare breed of artists that prioritise the fans over the powers of a record label, staying true to his roots and consistently releasing material that fans will embrace, regardless of its commercial appeal. Fans have been eagerly awaiting new music since the release of ‘Wild Ones’ last year, and with a new album in the pipeline for a 2017 release, Kip has released an ‘Underground’ EP to quench the thirst.

The EP features two new studio recordings, ‘All Time Low’ and ‘My Kind’, as well as three live recordings, ‘Midnight Slow Dance’, ‘Separate Ways’ and ‘My Baby’s Gone’. The last three are songs that have become fan favourites over the years but have never made the cut for a studio album. It’s exactly what the fans wanted and Kip has provided another stellar collection of tracks that instantly hit the spot. He’s certainly ‘fixed the craving’.

‘All Time Low’ kicks things off with immense power and such attitude with a killer guitar riff at the beginning that instantly grabs your attention. It’s one of Kip’s heaviest recordings, packed full of electric guitars with a pounding back beat, and it’s an instant favourite. As the title suggests, it’s a reflection on a tough period in life where the world seemed against him, being in a “shitty dive spending all my cash” – “this neon hell is my new found home”. It may well be a look back into the early days of his career, playing rough club gigs and seemingly going nowhere. As usual, delivered with such passion; if you’re going to grab your listeners with the first song, this is how you do it.

This is followed by ‘My Kind’, which was the first song released from the EP. This one really intrigued me and took me a few listens to fully grasp. There’s a real stripped-back feel about it, with nothing more than a kick drum, tambourine, bass and the odd electric guitar riff here and there. The more you listen to it, the more infectious it becomes and it’s a great anthem for Kip’s blue-collar fan base. “My kind bleeds a little blue around the collar, my kind knows how to roll a little smoke. My kind knows about a hard-earned dollar, we drink Jack…straight, no coke”. It’s a track that’s begging to be played live. So simple but yet so likeable.

Then, we’re taken into the live section of the EP with the Springsteen-esque ‘Midnight Slow Dance’, recorded during a sound check. Kip describes it as “raw and bare bones”. It was written around 10 years ago and has only been performed a handful of times. It’s a testament to the devotion of Kip’s fan base when the demand for such an ‘underground’ track was so huge. It brings such energy to the EP and gives an opportunity for the band to let loose with another guitar-heavy, thumping rocker. Brilliant.

‘Separate Ways’ takes the tempo down with an almost reggae-like rhythm. It’s an interesting juxtaposition of a rather playful melody combined with melancholic lyrics. A familiar tale of a lost love and the struggles of letting go – “I drink and I smoke, an I act like I’m OK, but I guess we’ll just keep going our separate ways”.

Kip saves the best till last with my personal favourite ‘My Baby’s Gone’. This is just an absolute jam (I tried to be more complex, but that pretty much sums it up!), and I guarantee you’ll be singing along by the second verse. Lyrically, it’s almost the follow-up to ‘Separate Ways’, looking at the situation with a slightly more optimistic approach – “life is sweeter with her memory”. Although it’s still a struggle to let go, there’s a sense of acceptance. Kip performed this on his UK tour back in April and it became an instant fan favourite, but he’s taken the quality up another notch here with the standard of the production. It’s sublime and you feel yourself becoming lost in the melody.

From the writing, to the composing, to the production work, you just cannot fault him. Kip says that the next album won’t be anything like this, but you know for a fact that it’s going to be good. Are any of these songs potentially radio hits? No. And that’s a criticism of country radio, not Kip. But this EP was never intended for mainstream success, it was a gift to the fans, and he has delivered once again. With the influence of a record label it would be easy for Kip to become a sheep following the pack like so many others, but he continues to release music that appeals to him and his loyal fan base, and that deserves massive respect. Nice one, Kip.