As a torch-bearer for traditional country music, Justin Moore continues onward with the release of his sixth studio album Straight Outta The Country, available everywhere today (April 23).
Featuring co-writes with Rhett Akins, Casey Beathard, Randy Montana, Hardy and others, each of the eight songs find Moore embracing his signature Arkansas-twang and traditional country themes. Produced by Jeremy Stover, Straight Outta The Country includes Moore’s latest single “We Didn’t Have Much,” which is climbing at country radio.
Moore spoke to MusicRow recently about the new project, his collaborators, and the last 14 years of music.
MusicRow: Did you make the album during the pandemic?
We really recorded a lot of this while recording the Late Nights And Long Necks album. We had 30 or 40 songs that we were really excited about for that, but my label shockingly would not let me put 30 or 40 songs on that album. We knew that we were in a good spot and we knew that we loved these songs enough that we wanted to get them out to folks, so as we moved through this crazy year we were just trying to figure out how we were going to go about doing that. I might’ve recorded a couple of vocals here at home, but other than that, we were just very fortunate that we didn’t have to go in and track those things because it could have been very challenging, to say the least
With that many songs, how did you decide which songs went on which project?
Honestly it’s like putting a puzzle together. There’s songs that I wrote 18 or 19 years ago that I still want to put on an album. I’ll give you a prime example: I thought a song that I wrote 17 years ago called ‘Late Nights And Long Necks’ was going to be on the Late Nights And Long Necks album, so much so that we named it Late Nights And Long Necks and then that song didn’t make it on that album.
Sometimes putting an album together is just what fits together the best, it’s not necessarily ‘These are the best songs.’ We wouldn’t record them if I didn’t think they were great songs, I don’t mean it in that regard, but I’m a fan of albums having continuity throughout them. So I always try my best to put them together where I think they best fit.
You worked with Jeremy Stover again on production. You guys have have been working together your whole career. Why do you think it works so well with you guys?
We just get each other. It sounds silly to say, but we literally finish each other’s sentences. We’re not only partners in music and have been since the beginning of my career, but we’re like brothers. He’s one of my best friends in the world. I’ve heard him say that if he was an artist, he would be me. By the same token, if I was a producer/songwriter, I’d be him. I learned a lot from him early on in my career about writing songs.
Another collaborator, Paul DiGiovanni, is all over the Straight Outta The Country track list. With his background in pop-punk [Boys Like Girls] before starting to work in the country music space, and your very traditional sound, how does that work?
Well in complete transparency, I didn’t have a clue he was in [Boys Like Girls]. I love Paul, I would tell him this to his face, I just didn’t listen to that type of music. The reason it works is because he brings something to the table completely different than what Jeremy and I do, or whomever else is in the room with us. He will say something in a way that none of us have thought about, not to mention his ability to put tracks together and his melodies are just stuff that I would personally never think of. That has put me on a different path, lyrically. If he comes up with something melodically, or just says his thoughts about where to take a song, it may be a direction that never even entered my mind. I think it’s good to not only have [a variety] in the amount of voices in the room, but I think different types of voices in the room helps too. It makes songs better.
You have two versions of “We Didn’t Have Much” on the track list. Why is that song is so special to you?
It’s more special to me because of what we’ve all dealt with this year than it would have been otherwise. I heard the song really early on in the pandemic. We had Tracy Lawrence on as one of first guests on my podcast. He said something that really resonated with me and I really related to, and then after hearing this song, I related it to the song. What he said was that especially early on in the pandemic, he and his wife and family had been forced to lead a much more simple life, literally borrowing eggs from neighbors and things like that. Things that sound like a cliche country song, but we were kind of in the same boat here at home. I thought, man, this song speaks to the beauty in that simplicity.
This song kind of describes my youth and what we’re trying to impress upon my kids as best you can in this world we live in today. And I thought the song, from a timing perspective was perfect with what we’re all dealing with.
This is your sixth studio album. You signed to Valory Music Co. in 2008 and “Small Town USA” hit in 2009. What do you think it says about how far you’ve come musically and in your career?
It’s hard to believe, first and foremost, that we’ve been able to do this as long as we have and continue to have the success that we’ve been able to enjoy. I’ve got friends in town that I met when I came here and for whatever reason they didn’t [make it]—there’s a lot of luck involved in it. It’s a lot of timing and things. I just feel so blessed that I never had to get a real job.
More specifically pertaining to the music and me as an artist 14 years later, I think you learn who you are and what you want to say and what you want to be as an artist. You have an idea when you come out as a young artist, but then as you try this and you try that and you have the opportunity to go out and meet your audience, whether it be on stage, meet and greets, or social media. I think you just learn your craft. I feel as though I’m as true to myself as an artist as I’ve ever been.
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