JUSTIN MOORE: The Inside Story on Off the Beaten Path
By TRICIA DESPRES
Though relatively new in the spotlight, Justin Moore has built a strong following, based on both his music and his personality. But even though he’s just getting started, the young artist knows that being open to change in both areas is the key to staying in the game long-term.
“With the business ever changing, it was my intention to also evolve as an artist and a songwriter and stretch my limits in order to grow my fan base to a point that it hasn’t been yet,” he said. “We’ve accomplished a lot and been very successful, but the end goal is to go out there and headline arenas. I feel like we need to grow a bit on this album to do that.”
That new album, Off the Beaten Path, scheduled to release Sept. 17, does maintain what Moore calls a “down and dirty vibe,” in part by including several actual demos among the final tracks.
“We would go into the studio and cut something real quick,” said Moore, who also collaborates on the album with Country Music legend Charlie Daniels and good friend Miranda Lambert. “I started realizing that we needed to keep it that way and that we were just not going to beat that. If it feels good, it feels good. Believe me, in the past I have re-cut some songs four times and then ended up going back to the original demo track. So many people redo this and redo that to make it sound perfect these days. I didn’t want to do that. I love the imperfections. On some of the songs, I had been going for days and my voice was shot and all raspy. That’s real life stuff and it’s one of my favorite parts of listening to an entire album.”
Pushing himself out of his comfort level was a must for Moore, especially on the title cut, written by Jeremy Stover, Chris Janson and Brandon Kinney. “It was a funny deal because I was hanging out with Jake (Owen) and telling him that if he got any songs that he didn’t want, he could send them over to me,” Moore recalled. “Ends up that Jake has listened to a demo of ‘Off the Beaten Path’ and thought it was too Country for him. I had heard the same demo and thought it was too pop for me! I ended up cutting the some, but I just didn’t know if I could pull it off. It definitely pushed me as an artist, but now it’s one of my favorites on the album.”
Written by Justin Weaver, Rodney Clawson and Chris Tompkins, “That’s How I Know You Love Me” was another cut that Moore hesitated somewhat to record. But, again, he was ultimately thrilled with the results. “I loved the song from the very beginning and I knew I had to cut it, but I was nervous about how I was going to sound,” he said. “It has almost this Springsteen/Prince vibe. Those were just the tings I felt we needed to do to continue growing this thing.”
In the end, after the tape stops and the tour buses start rolling, Moore knows what’s most important. “I was getting ready to get on the bus this weekend, and my 3-year-old is looking at me, saying she wanted to go to work with me,” he says, with the sounds of his daughter Ella playing in the background. “She’s my buddy. I’m always trying to be a good daddy and a good husband and a good artist. That’s just what I do.”