The Simpson’s, back in the day, wasn’t shit. It used to be great, incisive tv. Way back when, there was an episode where Homer met Billy Corgan from Smashing Pumpkins (a band, whom generally I have little time for). And Billy claimed that making teenagers depressed was “like shooting fish in a barrel”.
I have to admit to having that cross my mind when listening to the title track of “Damn Love”.

How hard can it be to write a country song about love and it’s vagaries? The answer probably, is “very” or else everyone would be doing it, and it is a superbly done song (it’s not Moore’s fault, after all, that I have not an ounce of romance in my soul.

It also helps that Moore is brilliant.

He’s so good, in fact, that I reviewed his last one twice (breaking my usual rule about not reviewing “deluxe” versions) and this one – co-Produced with Moore and Jaren Johnston of The Cadillac Three – is no exception
“Kinda Bar” is all spit, sawdust and honky tonks. Now, I don’t drink either, and you might well be wondering why a teetotal English man, with no romantic notions, is reviewing a record that is the polar opposite (albeit I’ve said already that Kip Moore is incredible) but the answer comes in “Neon Blue”. He’s a troubadour at heart. And one with an utterly glorious voice. A wonderful instrument in it’s own right. There’s a wanderlust here. A longing.

But there’s also a song that ranks as probably the best of his career. “The Guitar Slinger” is sensational. This is the song that proves it’s real. This need to create “when your soul’s on fire and your heart feels faded.” Everything about it screams class. And there’s nothing remotely formulaic about it.

If that one recalls Ritchie Sambora’s classic “Stranger In This Town” album, then “Heart On Fire” isn’t hiding its love of another New Jersey hero. The boss of them all.

“Another Night In Knoxville” underlines that Moore is so much better when he’s being bleak. He’s one of the best in the world when he dwells in the darkness. That said, he’s a pretty damn good pop singer too, as “Silver And Gold” (key line: “like a blue collar soldier” and maybe Kip is going to battle here?)

The chart ready stuff keeps coming. “Peace And Love” is elevated, however, by it’s 80s synths. While the balancing act this album does, between pop and something darker, is never better shown than the anthemic “Sometimes She Stays”, a kind of halfway house which will see children conceived all over America in 2023, no joke.

That he follows this with three more from modern country’s top draw is all you need to know. “Some Things” is essentially a list of every country song you’ve ever heard (but as it says “some things don’t ever get old”), Ashley McBryde appears on “One Heartbeat” and as much as country loves a duet, this is great. And “Mr. Simple” is the soundtrack to the good old boys who “don’t like the city”.

The last one “Micky’s Bar”, is wonderful. Another that’s worthy of Springsteen as it surveys the characters in the hostelry and tells their stories. Maybe these are the same people in “Kinda Bar”? But either way, it’s mighty.

“Damn Love” is everything you need to know about this artist. Classic sounds, classy, and even if you’ve heard much of this in other songs before, it’s very seldom this good.

Rating 8.5/10

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