This Friday, Kip Moore will release his brand new studio album – Damn Love – that continues the upward trajectory laid out on Wild World.
On Damn Love, Kip Moore continues the trajectory he laid out on Wild World – where he dove deeper into the rockier edges of his vocal and sound. Damn Love is a gorgeously cohesive album that shows album craft is still alive and well. An album that should be listened to from start to finish, as the artist intended – taking you on a journey of love and loss, watered down in a bar with a hefty dose of whiskey whilst dwelling on life’s complications and joys. Moore himself talks of Damn Love, ‘I’ve always had a nomadic spirit, at the core of me that’s what I am, and it’s a beautiful life I lead – I don’t take that for granted… But I still crave that companionship down deep in my DNA, and that’s where ‘Damn Love’ comes from.’ It’s that tension that runs through as the central tenet of this record and one that makes it so sonically and lyrically interesting.
Moore has always been an extraordinary live performer and there’s a hefty dose of that in evidence on Damn Love – from the anthemic ‘Heart on Fire’ to the thrumming, driving beats of ‘Silver and Gold.’ Nowhere is that energy more evident though than on the title track – a rocking thrumming song about the nature of love, it’s quirks and loveable flaws. ‘It’s sunsets and cold cans / It’s falling hard but college plans / Got you faking that smile / But you can’t let go of her hand / It’s a goodbye kiss and taillights / It’s phone calls and late nights / It’s what I wouldn’t give to be tongue-tied one more time.’ The album lays out the roadmap for the rest of the album – a signature rock-infused country track, where Moore yearns for love.
There are a decent amount of filler tracks on the album – including ‘Kinda Bar’ and the troubadour crooner ‘The Guitar Slinger,’ but it’s the sweet spot where Moore’s yearning for love meets with his electrifying rock-edged tracks that sear. So, on ‘Neon Blue,’ he sings of the world moving on without him as he continues his travelling ways – ‘Cos the world just don’t wait on no cowboy like me‘ – and on ‘Heart on Fire,’ backed with a thrumming beat, he delivers an addictively good rocking track about seduction, with the refrain ‘come get this heart on fire.’ There’s a vintage feel and echoes of his country roots that reverberate throughout the record, like on the 70s tinged rock ballad ‘Another Night in Knoxville.’
Where Moore has matured and grown over the past few albums has been in his quieter, more sentimental tracks that feel less cliched than his earlier tracks like ‘More Girls Like You.’ Now, he delivers the beautifully tender ‘Sometimes She Stays’ dripping with regret as he muses on a lost love. ‘Sometimes she stays, sometimes she goes / And that’s when you know, you want her to stay.’
The final quarter of the album is no doubt where the true magic lies, beginning with a sublime duet with Ashley McBryde – ‘One Heartbeat’ – that may be the finest on the record. It’s an electrifying song of yearning and hope for love. ‘One heartbeat and you got nothin’ / Make it two, baby you got somethin’ / This world ain’t meant to travel on alone.’ The raw edges of both Moore and McBryde’s vocals are sublime together.
‘Mr Simple’ is Kip Moore at his finest vulnerability, being happy with the simple side of life with his girl. ‘Why complicate it when it’s so easy to do? / Just call me Mr. Simple, girl / Livin’ simple with you.’ It’s the celebration of the small and everyday parts of life that is where Moore excels, as he rounds out the album with ‘Micky’s Bar’ – a good old country song that sings about the everyday comings and goings of life at its namesake. ‘Last call for drinks, it’s closing time / Micky’s wiping down, Sheri makes the coffee / For all the cold and lonely hearts.’
On Wild World, Moore laid out his heart, flaws and vulnerabilities in ways he had not previously done, and its this journey of personal reflection he continues on Damn Love, painting a picture of himself as a travelling soul but one with regrets and failings, amidst an internal tug of war between settling down and life on the road. Sonically, Moore is quieter, more intense and rock-fuelled than on the earlier records of his career, yet allowing more space for quieter moments of reflection that tie the album seamlessly together.