Justin Moore

Off the Beaten Path

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For Justin Moore, going off the beaten path doesn't mean that he's suddenly getting quirky. No, the beaten path he alludes to in the title of his third album is the well-worn country-pop path that so many of his peers take in 2013. Unlike Luke Bryan and his ilk, Moore is no suburban country bro, singing songs for spring break and sports bars, but that isn't to say that the singer is stuck in the past, either. When he sings about "Country Radio," he isn't lamenting the loss of real country -- the Hanks, Merles, Cashs, and Georges of legend -- he's happy to be laying back with his girl and listening to what's on the radio right now. And, for as traditionalist as he is in some respects -- he has a deep twang that'd suit classic honky tonk -- he's a modern guy, bearing the clear influence of Brooks & Dunn, happy to thread in an electronic drum loop and a bit of hip-hop on the album's title track, ready to indulge in sentimentality at a moment's notice, gilding his uptempo cuts with arena-country guitars. Underneath all this gloss, Moore is proud to be a redneck -- this is especially true on the deluxe edition of the albums, which is filled out with five songs about hillbillies, hangovers, the open road, and beer, all rowdier than what's on the finished album (and, tellingly, bearing more original songwriting credits than the LP itself) -- and that also gives the album an air of authenticity. At a moment when country is teeming with affable guys next door, Moore is digging his boots into the backroads, which does indeed mean he's wandering down a path few are traveling.

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