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Justin Moore

Late Nights and Longnecks – 2019 (Valory Music)

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

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CDs by Justin Moore

Justin Moore bills "Late Nights and Longnecks" as "his most traditional album to date." We've seen a lot of this recently in Music City. When an artist has some commercial success and is leery of the sell-out stigma associated with crossover, they swing the pendulum back toward the traditional and make an album that's all about the songwriting and the truth. The truth here is that there is a lot of drinking on the 10-song collection. Moore has a writing credit on all of them. The lead off track sets the tone with prominent pedal steel and a charging electric guitar on the up tempo "Why We Drink," which apparently is for absolutely any reason.

"Jesus and Jack Daniels" is Moore's self-professed favorite cut due to its old school feel. With its juxtaposition between faith and alcohol, there is no moral or secular situation these traditional parents can't handle. When they caught their son with some pot, mama put him on a prayer list and daddy whipped him with a Zebco rod. It feels a little forced. By contrast, 'The Ones Who Didn't Make It Back Home" has a truly organic feel. You can hear the sincerity in his voice as he sings about the soldiers and first responders who never came back and the hometown scenes that commemorate their passing. Even the melody feels like a patriotic anthem.

Unlike his 2016 hitmaker "Kinda Don't Care" production here is sparse and some cuts feel like a one take radio session with capable work from guitar virtuoso Brent Mason and pedal steel master Paul Franklin. What would a claim to traditional country record be without a nod to the simple life? "Small Town Street Cred" checks all the boxes from the make and model of your truck to chasing whitetail and high school football. It is debatable that the album would be suitable for the hard-core honky tonk crowd, but you can two step to a few numbers and most certainly drink along to all of them.