REVIEW: Kip Moore – ‘Slowheart’

LifeInASong_UK

“There are smoke and mirror fan bases and there are real fan bases. A lot of people get confused in feeling like they’re in a real fan base but the minute that air play leaves, it’s gone. I feel like there’s been a special bond between myself and the fans – ‘Wild Ones’ gave me such a sense of confidence to be who I am and write the record I want because we didn’t render a single radio hit from that record, but our fan base quadrupled in size. The fans have given me the confidence that there’s something real and authentic happening” 

This was Kip’s response to a question from Billboard regarding the relative success of ‘More Girls Like You’, his first top 10 hit on radio since ‘Hey Pretty Girl’ back in 2013. The focal point of Kip’s career isn’t his track record on radio, it’s the unique underground community of fans he’s garnered on the road. With stubbornness and a will to stay true to himself, Kip seems to have moved into a position of creative freedom with Universal which many artists are restricted from; only time will tell if ‘Slowheart’ proves him right.

Frequent YLIAS readers won’t need telling that Kip is a firm favourite of ours. I regard ‘Wild Ones’ as a truly iconic record that shaped my musical outlook – one of the most tragically under-rated albums in history. ‘Slowheart’ was my most-anticipated release of the year. First of all, nothing about it mirrors its predecessor – Kip isn’t one of those predictable artists who plays it safe with every release, he’ll keep you guessing. The new album is a heavier, electric guitar-driven project with a much more prominent rock edge, whilst also drawing influence from pop, funk and soul in parts.

‘Plead The Fifth’ is the ideal introduction to ‘Slowheart’ with its deep, punchy melody that really stamps its authority from the off and symbolises the change in musical direction. “It’s one of the only outside songs I’ve ever cut. That melody just ripped me from my soul”. It’s a slick combination of a modern, powerful rhythm with almost an 80’s pop edge that makes for an absolutely killer track that’s begging to be played live. Badass.

However, it wouldn’t be a Kip Moore album without its fun, tongue-in-cheek moments. ‘I’ve Been Around’ is an honest reflection of Kip’s (sometimes) glamorous showbiz lifestyle that doesn’t suit his idyll, whilst also making light of his off-the-rail moments!

“I’ve been a lot of places, kissed a lot of faces, every city, every town.
Kinda like the wind, ask me where I’ve been, I’ll tell ya that I’ve been around”

A really cool pop-infused groove that I’m sure will be an instant favourite with fans.

‘Good Thing’ is another one that jumps out right from the first listen; a curveball that took me by surprise. Almost a continuation of ‘What Ya Got On Tonight’. Kip’s love of soul and motown is so prevalent here – certainly the album’s care-free, party-time moment that will go down a storm at the live shows with audience participation.

My personal favourite is track four, ‘Fast Women’, which has been in the can for some time. It’s an unapologetic reflection of repetitive life on the road, “stuck in a place my Mama’s King James calls sinning” whilst the world keeps spinning and the lives of his friends evolve.

“All of my buddies, yeah, they’re settling down
Laying deep roots in them no name towns
They got kids, and one day I want kids
They call me now and then and say, ‘Hey boy, you still out there just making that noise for the fans with that rock and roll band?
’”

Kip admits “It feels so good from where I’m sitting”. A similar vibe to his radio hit ‘More Girls Like You’ (review HERE) with Kip accepting that there’s more to life than touring, but he’s not actively making that step yet and it’s not something he’ll chase. Electric guitars rip through ‘Fast Women’ from the off, but it maintains a soulful side similar to what we experienced on ‘Wild Ones’.

The most likely choice for the follow-up single to ‘More Girls Like You’ is probably the reminiscent ‘Bittersweet Company’ with its flowing, catchy lyrical delivery. It’s another rock-infused anthem utilising the hand-clapping that actually makes for an optimistic, jolly melody, juxtaposed with the regretful story of what could have been.

‘The Bull’ and ‘Blonde’ are also two memorable moments upon the first listen, around the middle part of the album. ‘The Bull’ is the only other outside song on the album, written by Jon Randall and Luke Dick. I couldn’t believe Kip hadn’t written it. It’s basically Kip’s ‘f*** you’ message to all the doubters and the people who refused to give him a chance.

“Thank you uncle Dean for teaching me “la bamba” on guitar
Thank you girl from Broken Bow who shot an arrow through my heart
Thank you mama for the roll and thank you daddy for the rock
Most of all, most of all
Thanks to the bulls that bucked me off

‘Blonde’ is melodically a re-incarnation of my personal favourite ‘Wild Ones’ track, ‘That Was Us’, particularly with the overlapping of lyrics in the final verse. I think many of us know that one person who lost all sense of reality chasing a path to glory, forgetting their true self and respect for those around them.

“You can chase the lights, you can chase the fame
Used to be the captain of the cheer team, now you’re just a never coming homecoming queen
Don’t sell yourself long, girl, you must be confused
You ain’t even blonde girl, or even true to your roots”

It’s slick, clever, and another instant attention-grabber that adds another spice to a diverse album. It’s also worth checking out the music video, which sums up the song perfectly.

Towards the end of the album, the pace is slowed down with ‘Last Shot’, which has been a favourite of the die-hards for ages. The song just screams ‘encore’ with a crowd waving their arms in the air.

“If you were my last breath, I’d just wanna hold ya
If you were my last night I had on wheels, I’d wanna drive you like I stole ya
If you were my last shot, last shot of whiskey
I’d press you to my lips, take a little sip
Swirl you around and around and around
Then I’d shoot ya down

Such a powerful, anthemic chorus, combined with Kip’s immense raspy delivery to convey the passion and emotion behind the song. This is followed by ‘Try Again’, another soulful groove which reminds me of ‘Running For You’. A confession of uncontrollable love for that certain someone, it’s a tale of persistence in Kip’s eventual pursuit of family life.

The final track ‘Guitar Man’ is quite honestly a contender for song of the year. The screaming electric guitars and punchy backbeats are put aside for a 5-minute stunner about the battles of life on the road through the years as a faceless, unappreciated artist. The crowds absolutely fell in love with it on his UK tour last year, and it’s that song that Kip may look back on at the end of his career as the song he’s most proud of. It represents everything he’s all about, and it encapsulates everything we appreciate about his artistry.

“Yeah the fruits of my labour’s when the crowd sings along
Nothing short of a saviour, I go home alone
I’m an empty, faceless spotlight mic-stand
I’ll getcha high, I’ll getcha low, I’m the guitar man
 

‘Slowheart’ is yet another hugely impressive collection from one of the genre’s most authentic, talented artists and it will touch the hearts of his committed fan base, whether it receives any recognition from radio or not. It shows another development in both Kip’s lyrical content and musical abilities, showing diversity across the board and a refusal to hold back. It’s straight from the heart – no interference from a record label, nothing artificial, just pure Kip Moore. And that’s the way we like it.

Dan Wharton (@LifeInASong_Dan)

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