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Justin Moore

Off the Beaten Path – 2013 (Valory)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Justin Moore

With Justin Moore's Off The Beaten Path, this stereotypical modern day country singer actually treads a well trod mainstream road, where the songs push all the right buttons, much like that famous Pavlovian dog study. Moore predictably sings about country life, including rednecks (For Some Ol' Redneck Reason), small towns (This Kind Of Town) and listening to the radio with your girl (Country Radio). Country artists like Moore are so adamant about keeping it real, but you'd almost think a focus group was consulted to pick out these rural folk-pleasing songs.

Moore's Outlaws Like Me at least had the song If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away, which put spiritual concerns into movingly personal terms. Nothing on this new release comes even close to that album's standout track, though. Although Moore doesn't give himself anything unique to sing, he nevertheless sings extremely well. When he first entered the mainstream, Moore sounded like he was conflicted: one side wanted to be a rock star, while the other half of his personality longed to be a country singer. He sounds extremely comfortable in his own skin now and sings with great authority throughout - like a real deal country singer. He sounds a little like Travis Tritt did, back when he had similar commercial appeal. Yet Tritt infused even some of his corniest songs with sincere personality. We're left wishing for more Moore and far less paint-by-numbers country songs.