Album features “You, Me, And Whiskey” with Priscilla Block
Justin Moore has never been one to follow the pack. A multi-Platinum, chart-topping country star who left Nashville behind for the simple pleasures of small-town Arkansas life, Moore has built his remarkable career playing by his own rules, eschewing trends and spotlight-chasing in favor of an honest, old-school approach to making records and connecting with audiences. His sixth studio album, Stray Dog, slated for May 5th via The Valory Music Co., was captured at the historic Castle Recording Studios in Franklin, Tennessee, and showcases Moore at his most self-assured, tapping into the raw energy of his electrifying live show as he delivers heartfelt stories of desire and commitment, heartbreak and regret, joy and celebration.
“A long time ago I decided I wasn’t going to play games or pursue things that didn’t make me happy,” Moore reflects. “Perhaps that’s made me a bit of an outsider in this industry, but it’s also what allows me to go to bed each night feeling good about what I’m doing.”
The songs are mature and nuanced, rooted in the rewards and challenges that come with embracing adulthood. The production is similarly refined, drawing on classic country even as it pushes firmly into the 21st century. Sure, there’s plenty of good times and whiskey to be found on the album, but Stray Dog is ultimately a powerful work of reflection from an artist who’s grown to understand himself on a deeper level than ever before, one who’s willing to engage in the hard work that comes with building not just a career, but a life of meaning and purpose.
Moore and the band captured the majority of Stray Dog live over the course of just a few days. Opener “Everybody Get Along” sets the stage, with a loose, playful spirit of camaraderie between Moore and special guest Riley Green, who spin a friendly rivalry into a declaration of unity in the face of tension and division. “In a world where all we do is fight and fuss and disagree,” they sing, “why can’t everybody get along like you and me?” Like much of the album, the track balances wry turns of phrase with an underlying sincerity, and repeated listens are rewarded with deeper layers of meaning.
The soaring “That Wasn’t Jack,” for instance, turns a down-home southern saying into an emotionally vulnerable revelation, while the tender “Better Slow” meditates on taking your time in a world obsessed with instant gratification, and the blissful “Country On It” revels in the laidback joys of country living. While Moore gets romantic on the heartfelt “With a Woman You Love” (his latest No. 1 single) and taps into an even more sensual side on the simmering “You, Me, And Whiskey” (a duet with rising-star Priscillia Block), he doesn’t shy away from good old fashioned party songs here either, delivering perhaps the most freewheeling performance of his career with the lighthearted “Get Rich Or Drunk Trying.”
It’s ultimately the slow-burning “Stray Dogs,” though, that best encapsulates the record, with Moore proclaiming, “I’m the wild and free kind of breed that’ll always be / Running with the stray dogs.”
“It’s a really personal, autobiographical song,” Moore reflects. “I’ve never just gone along with the crowd. I’ve always tried to follow my heart and let the chips fall where they may, and I’m really proud of that.”
- Everybody Get Along (with Riley Green)
- That Wasn’t Jack
- With A Woman You Love
- Better Slow
- Stray Dogs
- Country On It
- You, Me, And Whiskey (with Priscilla Block)
- Get Rich Or Drunk Trying