Over the past 8 years, Kip Moore has worked his backside off to build a career in Country music. A lot of that effort has been channelled into the UK, where he has a very loyal and ever-growing fanbase. Until the pandemic hit, Kip had been coming over at least once a year and in 2019 we were lucky enough to have him twice. Kip’s third studio album Slowheart was released in 2017 and for me, it’s the best of his albums to date. It embraced his rockier side more than anything we’d heard before and it was a must-listen from start to finish. Nearly three years on, Kip is releasing his fourth studio album Wild World this week.
Wild World opens strong with Janie Blu, which does a fantastic job of capturing what Kip really sounds like live. His powerful and gritty vocal sounds fantastic and you really get to hear his range. That’s something that’s not always been caught on record and I’ve said many times over the years, that I prefer Kip as a live artist than a recording artist. The more stripped-back arrangement around his vocal works in his favour too and it’s nice to be able to really hear his vocals. The album moves into more familiar territory with outlaw anthem Southpaw, a song that’s sure to go down a storm live when Kip can resume touring.
The shimmering Fire and Flame recalls Mike and the Mechanics’ The Living Years and it makes me think that Kip really should have been born in a different era so he could have competed in the 80s and early 90s rock scene. The title track comes next and it reinforces my often-stated criticism of Kip’s albums. Wild World is a perfectly solid track and I know one day I’ll be singing to it at one of his shows but it’s not a million miles away from what we’ve heard from him before. I acknowledge this is a controversial opinion and we’ve had many animated debates about it in the Destination Country team.
The same is true for the mid-section of the album with songs such as Red White Blue Jean American Dream, She’s Mine and Hey Old Lover. I feel all of these could have found a home on any of Kip’s previous records.
The moments that really stand out on Wild World are those that give us glimpses of Kip we’ve never really seen before. The romantic and heartfelt More Than Enough is surprisingly delicate and tender, Sweet Virginia features s funky guitar rhythm that plays throughout the verses and South is a shimmering 80s-influenced rock moment that could have soundtracked many a John Hughes’ movies.
As is becoming a tradition, Kip leaves the best until last with the acoustic-led track Payin’ Hard. It feels like a worthy sequel to Guitar Man as Kip reflects on his life, his drive and his determination to achieve his dreams. There’s a little defiance in the lyrics too and that’s one of the qualities I’ve always admired about Kip, he’s never been afraid to forge his own path.
There’s no doubt that Kip Moore is modern Country’s answer to Bruce Springsteen. As a live performer he’s unparalleled and that’s where I feel he soars as an artist. That energy he gives off on stage is hard to truly recreate on record but Wild World does the best job of achieving it so far. For me, there are a few too many overly familiar sounding tracks and I’d love to see Kip really push out of his comfort zone in the future. Wild World is a solid album and it’ll sell plenty more concert tickets but it’s a little too on the safe side.
Track list: 1. Janie Blu 2. Southpaw 3. Fire and Flame 4. Wild World 5. Red White Blue Jean American Dream 6. She’s Mine 7. Hey Old Lover 8. Grow On You 9. More Than Enough 10. Sweet Virginia 11. South 12. Crazy For You Tonight 13. Payin’ Hard Record label: Spinefarm Records Release date: 29th May 2020 Buy Wild World