No one can deny that there is still a wide gap between fans of “old country” and “new country” and the  debate continues about what makes country sound country. But I honestly feel like there’s enough fans out there who plant their flags firmly in both camps, myself included. And what also seems to be emerging are artists who themselves seem to bridge the divide. Just like artists who regularly fall into the “Americana” category as well as “country” there seems to be some singers and songwriters out there who’s songs sound “traditional” (read:old) and also “fresh” (read:new). Who knew you could be both??

Justin Moore apparently knew.

His latest album Late Nights and Longnecks feels like it has something for everyone on it. A traditional singer with a voice straight from the south mixed with a bit of “new Nashville” sound results in a fantastic album that we’ve had on repeat at the CountryLine HQ since it’s release last month.

Word of warning though… We’d have it on in the background and then couldn’t understand why half way through the day we were all suddenly craving whiskey… It is definitely a good ol’ drinking album.  The opening track Why We Drink couldn’t be a more country song if it tried. And if we took a shot of tequila for every time Moore mentions alcohol well I don’t think I’d still be sitting upright and I definitely wouldn’t be able to write this review. But hey, it’s summer and we all love a song about Jack or Jim… (Within limits though folks. Drink responsibly and listen to Someday I gotta quit… )

Whilst it almost feels like a throwback to 90s country and the melodies will have you tapping your foot it’s really the lyrics that will get you hooked. The Ones That Didn’t Make It Back Home is another country song that honours a fallen military brother but before you dismiss it thinking you’ve heard it before listen to the words. It’s written in such a way that you can’t fail to be touched. And then listen to the lyrics of Thats my boy and try and tell me that your heart doesn’t melt. Moore has a way with words that makes him one of the truly great songwriters out there right now.

Moore has been quoted as saying that this is the album he wanted to make and I like that. He co-wrote every track and I really feel like you can tell. It just feels different to Kinda Don’t care. As Nashville music threatens to become more and more “over-produced” purests may worry about the direction that the artists are taking but with artists like Moore sticking to their roots and producing albums like this I think we’ll be ok.  

He actually acknowledged the changes himself in Good Times Don’t (“Chevy got away from a square body” and there are “a lot more brands than Wrangler jeans.”) but at the same time he embraces the past and melds it with the future. As Moore sings in On the Rocks “this ain’t my first rodeo’ and there’s something strangely comforting about this album. Like slipping on a well-loved leather jacket… it fits just right.

Late Nights and Longnecks is available everywhere now.