Justin Moore

Justin Moore

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Like many a young country singer, Justin Moore sings an ode to Hank Williams on his eponymous 2009 debut, but the catch is, he's not saluting Senior, he's bumping fists with Bocephus. Raised on rockin' country, he has no interest in traditions, at least as far as music goes. When it comes to his "Grandpa," "Small Town USA," and the "Good Ole American Way," though, he's all about tradition, the picturesque kind that looks so good on big-budget blockbusters and political ads. Moore is more interested in the smutty jokes that fuel "Back That Thing Up" or the big-buckled, heavy-booted threat "I Could Kick Your Ass," which would sound a tiny bit more threatening if Moore had a bit more hair on his chest. He sounds polite and polished, perhaps the product of all those good small-town manners, but that gentle touch ironically also undercuts his paeans to everyday America, turning it into a bit of play-acting. Since the production is clean and crisp, and since Moore -- who co-wrote most of these tunes -- sees no shame in pandering, there's a bit of crowd-pleasing panache here, but a little more grit, a little more dirt, a little more heart would give him a needed lift and some measure of identity, something this anonymous country-rock could certainly use.

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