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Kip Moore

Slowheart – 2017 (MCA Nashville)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by Kip Moore

If you're one of those people who read CD inserts before listening to the music, Kip Moore starts out with one at least one strike against him on his third album. In the two pages of acknowledgements and thank yous (two pages!) there's this mixed metaphor on thank you number one, which goes out to Jesus: "You continually pull me from the sinking sand. . . I'm out of the woods because of your love." Um, not a lot of sand in the woods, Kip.

Thankfully, things get better as soon as you stop reading and start listening. The opening track "Plead the Fifth" manages to combine old-style country and western wordplay with genuine emotion - it cleverly weds living in denial with the act of drinking whiskey in 750 milliliter bottles. On "The Bull" a singer thanks mom and dad (again), but acknowledges that a greater inspiration is "every nail that ripped My shirt / Every no I ever heard"; success being perhaps the most satisfying way to flip the bird to every metaphorical bull that bucked him off.

Unfortunately, Moore can't maintain that same level through the whole CD. A lot of this album covers some very familiar territory and doesn't really have anything new to say about it. We've all heard songs about how tough the road can be ("Guitar Man") and how important it is to stay true to your, ahem, roots ("Blonde"). And speaking of wordplay, "Between the slow gin fizz and fast women" (from "Fast Women") doesn't work as a pun any better than sipping fizzy pinkish drinks is going to work to score points with any wanton women.

Fans looking for anything remotely resembling a country song should look elsewhere. It's obvious that for all the talk of trucks, whiskey and Johnny Cash name drops, Moore has a rock and roll soul. He had a hand in co-writing all of the songs except for two. And even though they're by far the two best, he does show promise as a songwriter. He might just be trying too hard. On "Last Shot" he tries to tell a woman how much he loves her using metaphors, which - not to beat a dead horse - are not his forte. "If you were my last breath, I'd just wanna hold ya / If you were my last night of hell on wheels, I'd wanna drive you like I stole ya" is all well and good as long as you don't think about it too hard, but "If you were my cherry stem I'd tie you in a knot" belongs in a different, less-serious song, and it's hard to work the line "I'd shoot you down" (which is what he'd do if the young lady somehow transmogrified into Moore's last sip of liquor) into a love song. "Sip", "gulp", "swallow" - "guzzle" even. Anything but "shoot."

A good thesaurus and a refresher course in freshman composition would probably do Moore a world of good.