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Kip Moore’s “Wild Ones” surpasses sophomore expectations – Album Review

“Wild Ones” is a raw, emotional and contemplative rock-sounding album with a splash of country,
boasting songwriting, composition and production that, like its creator, defy conventionalism.

While fans have been sitting on the edge of anticipation awaiting Kip Moore’s sophomore release, hoping it would sting at least as strongly as his first shot (debut), Kip tells Billboard that he never dreaded the sophomore slump.

“I wasn’t scared of that (the dreaded sophomore slump), because I never stopped writing,” he said. “I’ve got a thousand songs. I’ve already written four more bodies of work that are ready to go now.”

So, did Kip “make it a double” with Wild Ones?

It’s been said that Wild Ones is not a country album but a rock album and not even a southern rock album at that. But in my opinion those comments compliment exactly what Kip strives for – being Kip Moore. He is what he is. He defines himself rather than letting a genre define him. And that’s what his fans have come to know, love and expect of him.

And in an era where the country music genre seems confused unto itself, I commend Moore for standing up to the pressure and up to his integrity.

“They call me country, call me hippie / the wildcat from Dixie and if you do or you don’t like what you see / that’s alright with me”

There’s no denying Kip’s signature sound distills from a Bob Seger, Springsteen fermentation. It’s what Moore’s debut served. And Wild Ones has a few shots of Mellencamp and Rod Stewart in the blend. But that’s just the distillation. No matter how you look at it, the label and the tracks are Kip Moore 100 Proof.

I will confess though, I have been on the edge of anticipation worried about Kip’s sophomore release. I loved Up All Night so much that I feared the sophomore follow up might not live up to the artists’ debut. While I intensely desired another shot of Moore, I suffered quietly from anticipatory anxiety. Geez, why do we fans and listeners worry about those things? But Kip has delivered 13 tracks of diverse originality in lyric, composition, storytelling and production. Whether you’re looking to listen to songs of life, love, integrity or desire, Wild Ones has something for everyone and a whole lot of signature Kip Moore grit, growl and gurgles – how exactly does he cough out those “hey”s!

Wild Ones is raw, raucous, boasts some strong bass and drum beats. It’s got some interesting musical surprises sprinkled throughout and none of which is overly done. In fact I find the production to be an instrumental compliment to the emotion of the lyrics.

Kip co-wrote and co-produced every Wild Ones track. And in order to play a game I suppose one needs a set of rules. But when it comes to art, to me, rules are guidelines. Kip Moore defies those guidelines in the writing of Wild Ones, going outside the artistic songwriting structure and format. “Come and Get It” has a repeat bridge not too often done but well deserved and well-crafted driving this track’s message home. And “Heart’s Desire” (see below) completely defies country music songwriting structure and is artistically brilliant because of it.

Wild Ones doesn’t rely on hooks to lure you in. Instead Moore captivates listeners lyrically in story, musically in unique instrumentation and vocally with raspy conviction.

Whether you’re a Kip Moore fan or new follower, Wild Ones is an album to add to your playlist. But truth be told from the get-go – make sure you purchase the “Deluxe Edition” because it serves three stellar shots of artistic excellence.

Kip-Moore-in-the-studio

For those of you that have hung in here for last call, indulge yourselves
Track by track, here’s how Wild Ones serves up

The title track opens the album with a party anthem and tribute to Kip’s fans. It’s explosive where it needs to be and definitely gets your heart thumping and your fists pumping. I wouldn’t say it “sets the album’s stage” because contrary to its name, Wild Ones (the album) isn’t just a rebel on the run. It’s more like a rebel with a cause, sharing stories of life, love, lessons learned, nostalgia and introspection. It’s a clear statement of individuality but in a grateful and grounded way.

* Come and Get It defies the notion that you only get one chance to make a first impression. At first listen the track sounded gender condescending and objectifying to women, which threw me off track because with all the love, desire and even quirky romantic playfulness Moore sings of, he’s never once done so in a disrespectful way. Then as I was driving along with Wild Ones one day, the bridge in “Come and Get It” resurrected my feelings and this song to the top of my favorites list. If you miss the lyrical bridge, you miss the message. And the track in total is musically and instrumentally one of the album’s tops. It opens with a heavy, thought-provoking drum beat, erupts into an explosive chorus and closes with an instrumental outro that’s a killer tribute to the buildup of emotional anguish in the story. You probably won’t experience the outro on radio so you’ll have to pick up or download the album to appreciate this one. And please do appreciate the outro.

Whether male or female, young teen or budding adult, we all have our “summer love” story. And Girl of the Summer is certain to take your subconscious on a nostalgic trip back to splashing around in summer love. It paints a lyrical picture so clear you can almost re-experience your moment.

But don’t wallow too long in love gone by because Kip Moore makes it clear in Magic he’s not one for believing in the unrealistic fantasy and portrayal of love. He’s a realist with a bleeding heart. “Magic” starts out with an eerily captivating sound compelling you to listen to the lyric, which creepily sneaks in on its own grit and growl. Moore’s use of the word “magic” replaces the “delusion” of love with real traits that remind him of what causes him to feel magic in love. This track is a bit musically reminiscent of Rod Stewart. But it’s unique in lyric and composition. Take a good hard listen and enjoy!

On the surface, That Was Us is a playful male anthem. But a deeper listen reveals a reflection that we probably all have in our yesterday. I could go on a psychological jaunt here but I won’t. I’ll just say, this one’s an interesting thinker.

Lipstick sneaks in also slightly reminiscent of a Rod Stewart sound. It’s artistically loaded with a lyrical tribute to all the places Moore has been. But I’m not hearing this as simply a tribute to the places that left a mark in Kip’s heart. I’m a word junkie. It’s a rare instance that a word sneaks by me. At first take, “lipstick” appears to be a metaphor for the places Moore has kissed in his artistic travels. But if you listen to the lyric, the last line switches gears on this road warrior tribute and pays emotional homage to whoever’s behind that lipstick.

I hate picking on people’s creations but What Ya Got On Tonight simply is not making the grade for me. I’m captivated and intoxicated by music, but words, by far, sweep me off my feet. And this tracks just a little too superficial for me, almost bordering on objectifying women. I’m a strong female with a love of playfulness. But it’s a fine line between playing and objectivity. Sorry Kip, I’m not liking this one.

* Heart’s Desire defies country music songwriting format from top to bottom. The musical and instrumental composition is captivating. Complete artistry. Verse, verse, one line chorus, instrumental – and he repeats this four times. It’s defiantly mesmerizing. And dangles an outro that has you hanging on to every beat, every bar, every “ooh,ooohhh” and “hey, hey”. Artistically speaking “Heart’s Desire” is the album’s best track.

Without an interview, it’s hard to know what portion of a song each artist contributed to. But whether he’s written them, co-written them, felt them or tuned in to them, Kip Moore has an artistic ear for gorgeous melodies. I’d still like to discuss Kip’s breath-taking musical intro to “Faith When I Fall” . . .

* Complicated is another well-rounded awesome track. Of course love doesn’t have to be complicated but oftentimes it is. So therein lies a common theme but it’s entwined here in a catchy – dare I say hooky – melody, with both a pre-chorus and chorus. Additionally, the second verse of a song carries as much pressure as a sophomore album does. Many times an opening verse is captivating and then the sentiment loses strength in the second verse. With “Complicated” not only does the second verse not fall flat, it’s stellar. What a lyrically fantastic way to make the point:

“Girl, you made your choice and you had your pick / of a little bit smoother ride than this / could’a played it safe / could’a got out clean / but you rolled the dice / and you stuck with me”

Seriously, you’ve just gotta love that verse.

And just when you think the surprises are over, “Complicated’s” bridge takes a winding turn to an unexpected place and invites the chorus to change its perspective.

I love words. The storytelling here is stellar!

Wild Ones’ lead single, I’m to Blame puts brevity to the test. The short story is filled with a myriad of mishaps that the songwriter takes full responsibility for. It’s a story and a sentiment Kip felt was important to be heard. It’s a playful, foot-stomping, catchy melody that hopefully the listener doesn’t get so caught up in that they forego what’s being said.

* That’s Alright With Me lyrically is probably something everyone wants to claim fame to but deep in the subconscious mind of most, people do care what others think. But if you are one of those rare breeds that are truly so grounded in your morals and integrity that another’s opinion doesn’t rattle your cage then this confident yet not cocky anthem of individuality is all yours. This tracks got an infectious melody, a strong drum beat, a funky set of lyric and a unique use of the hook. On first listen, this was an immediate keeper!

I dunno why but as soon as * Running For You played, I could feel a change in my physiology. Coming off of the quirky up-tempo of “That’s Alright With Me”, “Running For You” slowed down yet immediately went deep. You could feel something coming with its intro yet not quite sure what. But as soon as Moore’s raspy vocals laid down the first line, your attention stood like that of a soldier. Again, a common theme – boy vows not to ever hold girl back from chasing her dreams – but again, it’s Moore’s artistry that brings it to a new dimension. Vocally, Kip carries this with such gut-wrenching conviction that the believability factor is as intense as the emotions pouring out. Only a confident guy can sing this and mean it. Halleluiah to strong men. This track is magnanimous.

A strong piano commands the listener to immediately tune in to the chilling story in * Comeback Kid. On the surface “Comeback Kid” is an I-won’t-ever-give-up anthem of sorts. And whether we hear this for ourselves or someone in our lives, again, this is a very common story theme. But the play on the hook “Comeback Kid”, a twist in the chorus and then a change of plea in the final chorus takes this sentiment to a depth of introspective gratitude and sends a stinging shiver across every inch of your skin. You’ll swallow hard and possibly shed a tear by song’s end. Another of my favorites!

Alright – if you were smart enough to purchase the Deluxe Version, here it is . . .

Kip-Moore-Wild-Ones-Deluxe-Cover

Wild Ones Deluxe Version” . . .

You really are not experiencing the totality of Kip’s sophomore project unless you’ve purchased the Deluxe Version.

Could What I Do lyrically be what Kip Moore fan’s might want to call an autobiography? It’s a quirky but straight-up confessional of who I am, what I want and what I do. It’s honesty to the core told in creative tongue. There’s something to be said for the guy or gal that can state who they are and stay true to it. It’s not always easy on the type stage Moore finds himself on daily but this true grit songwriter makes no exceptions here.

Backseat, both the song and its not-so-nice coming of age sentiment, have been around a while. But as racy and parental advisory as this one might be, Kip handles it in a stumbling and fumbling with puberty kind of playful way. No one’s being “had” and no one’s being objectified. It’s growing pains portrayed a little left of center, it’s a fan favorite and now it’s all yours.

The Deluxe Version of Wild Ones wraps up Moore’s sophomore project with * Burn The Whole World Down which initially and intensely captivated me. The track is introspective for sure. But it’s hard to tell if Kip’s running from or running to. Either way, its depth draws you in to assess your own emotional turmoils. Vocally, it’s raw and raucous and it’s produced with a musical tension building that compliments the story line. And I’ve got a real hard soft spot for a Celtic back beat and this track simply intoxicates me.

kip moore 6

All told, Kip Moore has served up a double shot of artistic brilliance with his sophomore release. Wild Ones is a definite must have for everyone’s playlist. Its genre is non-definitive, except to say, it’s 100 percent Kip Moore and you are going to enjoy every bit of it.

I have some very obvious favorites here. But in all honesty, Wild Ones is a superb project lyrically, musically, instrumentally, in vocal conviction, production and storytelling. It’s easier to say what I didn’t like. I wasn’t hooked on “What Ya Got On Tonight”, and if I’m being completely honest, the work beneath the cover deserves different cover art. Be aware that Kip fought for this cover.

“I wanted my album cover to embody who I am as an artist, and who we are as a band. And to symbolize what the record is. For me, it was about creating something that’s really gonna stick out and that embodies what the album is. The album has so much desperation in it, and that people screams that. It was just about capturing that.”

But Graffiti art speaks very specifically and Wild Ones is anything but graffiti. In fact, if you really listen to the stories, there’s depth. And between the graffiti covers it’s all black-and-white, which is raw, emotional and contemplative, which is exactly how I hear Wild Ones.

But with those two minor glitches, Wild Ones far surpassed the dreaded sophomore slump.

Enjoy Wild Ones, Kip.A phenomenal piece of artistry!

And, um, I can’t wait to hear the remaining four-projects worth of tracks you’ve got written and ready to go.
* Well-rounded artistic brilliance
_____________________
Have you purchased Wild Ones? What’s your favorite track(s) and why?

About Christine McDonald (31 Articles)
<p>Christine McDonald is a Boston-based copy, content and column writer, crafting copy for the arts, entertainment, holistic health and spiritual markets. Christine’s been “Writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil and a thought™”, hooked on country since conception and studied songwriting with the Boston chapter of NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International). When Christine’s not writing she enjoys family, friends, food, pets, photography, reading and the ocean.</p>

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