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Kip Moore

Up All Night

(MCA Nashville; US: 24 Apr 2012; UK: 24 Apr 2012)

Kip Moore’s single “Somethin’ About a Truck” has one of those perfectly generic titles; imagine it as a sketch of country radio overall today. What was that song I heard yesterday? I don’t know, somethin’ about a truck. Or somethin’ about a truck and a cold beer and a girl in a dress—oh yes, all of those are here, too. One the one hand, that the actual song’s “there’s somethin’ about a truck” proclamation sounds readymade for a Ford truck commercial—something I can visualize right now—makes the song disappointing, compared to the possibilities the title sets up. On the other hand, the way he starts with one image (a truck in a field) and then links it to another and another gives the song both a narrative force and an existential quality. It almost doesn’t matter when you realize the story he’s telling is basically the exact same one as every other third hit single from a male country singer the last couple years. A boy hooks up with a girl in a field, near a pick-up truck and plenty of cold beer, and they go swimming in a creek. Maybe this is a beer commercial after all, not one for a truck. Who can tell the difference?


The romantic image of kissing a pretty girl in an automobile, with beer, is a persistent one for Kip Moore. There’s a song called “Beer Money”, even, which has an almost impossibly hooky chorus that sounds like money itself, or at least his next hit. The girl-car-beer image comes up in at least five songs here. It’s also a persistent image for country music. Unlike a lot of his contemporaries, Moore can take it in a moody direction, like in the first song “Drive Me Crazy”, where he thinks back to his earliest romantic encounters—yep, in the woods, in a field, by the river, often in a car. He gets moody with a similar scenario on “Crazy One More Time”, where he puts a Springsteen-ish “let’s run away from this town” spin on it, within a thick atmosphere that carries a bit of modern country’s U2 fetish. It’s a textbook story, though—he wants one kiss to lead to more, dreams that she’ll tell him not talk about his feelings but just to let his body do the talking. They say goodbye, he cries, but he hides it, a somewhat touching moment for our rough, dirt-road-voiced singer.


“Up All Night” has tears too, not in lyrics but somewhere in its sound, and a guitar/drums combination that opens the song up in a way that suggests the open sky he sings about. The “wild hare” he sings about having is to escape down the dirt road with a girl to a party with a bonfire—not exactly earth-shattering. There’s a point where “crazy” living doesn’t seem that crazy, when everyone on the radio is being crazy in the same way. “You can shake your ass,” he tells her. (Oh really, you’ll let me do that? Why thank you.) Still, there’s a sense of the fading sun throughout it all, as if this is their last chance and it’s gently, quickly slipping away. It’s a bittersweet dream ultimately, not a frat-rock anthem.


Those wisps of sadness get probed deeper on the loneliest songs, like “Where You Are Tonight”, which start with him waking up the middle of the night, sweating, shaking, suffocating, and missing her. “Fly Again” is the attempted step up from there, trying to find confidence in alcohol and guitar. “I’m going to say goodbye to you tonight,” he sings, and maybe we believe him? He’s trying hard to put on his big-man face: “Girl it hurts / I’m not gonna lie / but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna cry.” He’ll be able to save those tears until the recording stops, maybe.


The album ends, like a lot of country albums do, with a song about faith, “Faith When I Fall”. It stretches out in the intro, letting a sad but sturdy acoustic guitar play, before a more typical rock-ish modern country sound picks up. It’s not a proclamation but a request, a cry for help. “I know there ain’t no running from this kind of storm,” he sings. It’s still generic, but takes a somewhat different turn, which is true for the entire LP.

Rating:

Dave Heaton has been writing about music on a regular basis since 1993, first for unofficial college-town newspapers and DIY fanzines and now mostly on the Internet. In 2000, the same year he started writing for PopMatters, he founded the online arts magazine ErasingClouds.com, still around but often in flux. He writes music reviews for the print magazine The Big Takeover. He is a music obsessive through and through. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri.


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Kip Moore - Beer Money (Live)
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