Justin Moore hit Nashville in 2009 with a ready-made image. He was the good kid from a small town with a rowdy heart of gold who just happened to be able to sing about it. Moore had grown up in tiny Poyen, Arkansas, where he worked on his grandparents’ cattle farm and enjoyed an archetypal American rural childhood. He started singing as early as two years old, and at eight he won a talent show at the local high school. He sang gospel songs in church but spent the rest of his time listening to country music, studying the genre inside and out, focusing on old and new country all at once. He knew what he was doing, too. Moore may have been from a small town, but he wasn’t naïve, and when he finally moved to Nashville after high school, he was prepared and already armed with a manager. Soon he had an attorney, too, and signed a writing deal with Big Picture Music. He later met producer and songwriter Jeremy Stover, and the two began writing together, patiently waiting for the right break.
Moore eventually signed with Big Machine Records, part of Valory Music Company and home to pop-country stars like Taylor Swift and Jewel. By then, Moore had assembled a pretty solid band, which led to some opening spots in 2008 on tours by Trace Adkins, Luke Bryan, Brooks & Dunn, ZZ Top, and the Rowdy Frynds Tour with Lynyrd Skynyrd and Hank Williams, Jr. His first single, “Back That Thing Up,” was released later that year and made it onto the country Top 40 charts. A second single, the autobiographically apt “Small Town USA,” was released in February 2009. It topped the charts and paved the way for his self-titled debut, Justin Moore, which earned middling reviews from critics but became a Top Ten success nonetheless. In 2011, Moore returned armed with another number one country hit, “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away,” and a second studio album, Outlaws Like Me. The album also reached number one on the Billboard Country Charts on its way to being certified gold; “Bait a Hook” and “Til My Last Day” were also hit singles pulled from the record, with the latter peaking at seven. Moore returned with his third album, Off the Beaten Path, in the fall of 2013 and it produced another pair of high-charting singles in “Point at You” and “Lettin’ the Night Roll.” 2014 saw Moore pairing up with Mötley Crüe singer Vince Neil on a cover of their hit “Home Sweet Home” for the tribute album Nashville Outlaws: A Tribute to Mötley Crüe. That same year he received the New Artist of the Year award from the Academy of Country Music Awards. In advance of his forthcoming fourth album, Moore released the single “You Look Like I Need a Drink” in November 2015. Peaking at 22 on Billboard’s U.S. Hot Country chart, “You Look Like I Need a Drink” was featured on the full-length Kinda Don’t Care, which saw release in August 2016. ~ Steve Leggett