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Kip Moore

Wild World – 2020 (Universal)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Kip Moore

There are moments while listening to Kip Moore's album where the listener might feel like he/she is sampling new Kid Rock music - albeit, with plenty more heart and soul. Moore sings with a similarly endearing scratchy vocal tone, and has a primarily country music fan base, but that's where these two artists part ways artistically. Whereas Kid Rock mostly raises hell, Moore raises awareness. Kid Rock might be perfectly comfortable singing about his dark side, but Moore is heard struggling with his spiritual status on "Fire And Flame." Both lyrically and sonically, "Fire And Flame" resembles U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." And like Bono, Moore's on a quest.

The title cut is - in contrast to its footloose name - filled with calm advice. This advice is coming from a mother to a son, in the kitchen, no less. Moore co-wrote most all these songs, and the album feels a lot like that period when John Cougar transitioned into John Mellencamp. Cougar was a crazy rock and roller that grew up to find out the world doesn't always revolve around him.

Nothing illustrates Moore's personal awakening better than opener, "Janie Blu," which tells the story of one who is abused, as well as a substance abuser. Lyrically, it's the sound of Moore stepping outside of himself and into the mind and heart of another. It's cut from the same empathetic cloth as Black Crowes' "She Talks To Angels," and even sounds a bit like that memorable song.

There are plenty of serious moments found on "Wild World." That's to be expected whenever an artist is doing some soul searching. It's why the relatively lighter "She's Mine" offers welcome contrast. It's a love song about a guy missing the girl that got away. He may not know where she is right now, but he still believes she belongs to him. A similarly less urgent song, "Hey Old Lover," is the sound of man trying to relight an old flame. Filling out this gentler song trifecta is "Grow On You," which bounces along joyfully, a bit like one of those pop-ier Lady A singles. Built on a twangy electric guitar riff, Moore is heard vowing to win over a girl's heart - whether she realizes it or not. It's as confident as it is romantic and is joyfully triumphant.

Although Moore's latest isn't the sound of a guy gone wild, it is most certainly evidence of an artist on a creative streak. Best Practice: Choosing to listen to this kid rock, instead of trying to tolerate Kid Rock.