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Kip Moore

Wild Ones – 2015 (Universal)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Kip Moore

Kip Moore's sophomore release has been a long time in coming - 3 1/2 years - a surprise considering how well he did with his debut, "Up All Night," and its big hits ("Somethin' 'Bout a Truck," "Beer Money"). Moore has said he spent time expanding his sound - and he surely has done that - although two failed singles doubtlessly didn't help.

While "Up All Night" veered towards the rootsier side and would not have been confused with anything that was on old school country, "Wild Ones" rocks more and with a bigger sound. That is evident from the lead-off title track where he turns it up. He does the same on "Lipstick," a song that mainly name checks locales, but makes it clear he's missing his girl. "Running for You" is a song built for a sing-along in a large concert setting.

A number of songs, in fact, fill that bill, such as the catchy "Running for Tonight" with its galloping drum beat and guitars powering the song. "Come and Get It' is a full throttle rocker by the end with its crescendo wall of sound closing it out. These aren't isolated occurrences either as it's clear that Moore wants the radio play and the crowds singing the words back to him ("Girls of Summer" with its power chorus and staccato drum beat).

Thematically, Moore often blankets loss ("Heart's Desire") or what could have been ("What Ya Got On Tonight").

Springsteen, Mellencamp and Eric Church - check out the grit and passion of Moore's voice - are reference points, although he has not reached their levels of music prowess. In fact, he borrows a few words, including "pink lines" from Church and "born to run" from Springsteen in the tough sounding "Complicated" and directly quotes Mellencamp in "Comeback Kid." While the drums may not be Springsteen-like, the rest of "I'm to Blame" is with his forceful vocals. Moore should not be accused of being a Bruce knock-off, but it's clear he's taken a few cues from the Boss.

Moore doesn't exactly go wild in stretching out, but with a voice that's real and songs that suit him well, the wait was the hardest part.