Justin Moore, Late Nights and Longnecks | Album Review
As the title suggests, ‘Late Nights and Longnecks,’ the fifth studio album by country artist Justin Moore, has no shortage of references to the bottle.
35-year-old country artist Justin Moore took a three-year-hiatus between albums. After the “I Could Kick Your Ass” Arkansan asserted he Kinda Don’t Care in 2016, he’s back in 2019 with a 10-track, 34 minute affair, Late Nights and Longnecks. Of course, if you choose to splurge, you can get an exclusive deluxe version of the CD at Target with three extra songs. For our purposes, we stick with the standard edition that’s widely available, in all its brevity. Brief it is, there is no shortage of alcohol throughout the course of Late Nights and Longnecks.
“Why We Drink”
Moore commences Late Nights and Longnecks energetically on the mid-tempo ✓ “Why We Drink.” Throughout, as the song title suggests, he offers numerous reasons to partake of alcohol. This isn’t a new concept in country – Cole Swindell mastered it in 2018 with “Reason to Drink” (All of It) – but Moore’s take is certainly entertaining and firmly planted in southern and country sensibilities.
His pronounced twang continues to shine through on “That’s My Boy,” another enjoyable but not game changing joint. Essentially, Justin Moore paints the picture of the ‘good ole southern boy’ that his son will become, beginning with believing in Jesus, boots, a “Jacked up old truck,” and football. It’s what you would expect from a proud southern country artist, even if Moore doesn’t leave much room for his “Last name… a love like [he’s] never known” to say, ‘go against the grain.’
Justin Moore slackens the pace of Late Nights and Longnecks slightly on “The Ones That Didn’t Make It Back Home.” This is a thoughtful, reminiscent number, something that honestly the title reveals before listening. Like the previous two songs, the chorus is memorable – the centerpiece:
“Here’s to the ones that didn’t make it back home The ones we ain’t seen in so long The hold up a beer ones The wish they were here ones The not forgotten but gone In a better place up there But they sure left a hole down here We just go on livin’ and go on missin’ The ones, the ones that didn’t make it back home.”
“Jesus and Jack Daniels”
Standout ✓ “Jesus and Jack Daniels” represents two contrasting perspectives, both of which often seem to occur simultaneously in country music. According to Moore, “Mama loved Jesus, Daddy loved Jack Daniels / … Between the two of ‘em, wasn’t nothing they couldn’t handle.” Throughout the song, he lovingly paints a picture of their different philosophies (“His taste for Lynchburg and her grace from John 3:16”). From his parents, he moves on to missing his flight on ✓ “Airport Bar.” He’s “…Gone as hell, but [he] ain’t gone too far / in this airport bar” because (1) he’s wasted and (2) he’s met a fine girl. Fair enough.
“Small Town Street Cred” continues to embrace all things southern and again, part of the ‘country way.’ A perfect example occurs on the second verse where Moore sings, “You had to hold your liquor / You had to hold your ground / You had to hold onto the football / Had to make that home crowd proud.” It’s one-dimensional mind you but plays successfully to his fan base. “Never Gonna Drink Again” has ample personality, an entertaining follow-up to his charming “You Look Like I Need a Drink” (Kinda Don’t Care). After experiencing “A hell of a week,” for Moore, the atonement is Jim Beam. “And I’m gonna drink ‘til I swear that I’m never gonna drink again,” he proclaims at the end of the chorus.
“On the Rocks”
✓ “On the Rocks” slackens the pace, finding Moore showing off the beauty and richness of his pipes. Arguably, “On the Rocks” might offer his best vocal performance of Late Nights and Longnecks. He blends well with his female backing vocalist, specifically on the chorus of this country ballad. Continuing the narrative on the penultimate ✓ “Someday I Gotta Quit,” Moore sings, “I woke up cussing Jack Daniels today /… He ain’t the kinda guy I’d hang out with / Someday I gotta quit.” He sums up an assortment of issues plaguing him on the chorus:
“Between the whiskey and the nicotine The wrong girls in the right jeans And all the other fires that keep burning me I keep lit It ain’t ever gonna happen, some say But somehow, some way Someday I gotta quit.”
“Someday I Gotta Quit” does offer some contrasts compared to other songs on Late Nights and Longnecks, at least in regard to production cues. It’s still country to the core mind you, but the enigmatic sensibility at least keeps the album intriguing enough. Moore closes things out with the brief “Good Times Don’t,” a song that appreciates the things that are never gonna change. He says it best on the chorus: “For cold beer, Friday night, mud on the steps / That ain’t ever goin’ out of style / … Yeah, times change but good times don’t.”
All in all, Justin Moore delivers a respectable country album with Late Nights and Longnecks that should play out very well with his base. He doesn’t reinvent the country wheel by any means, but he keeps things southern and countrified to the nth degree. Ultimately, there’s nothing wrong with ‘tried and true’ and that’s what Moore is selling here.
✓ Gems: “Why We Drink,” “Jesus and Jack Daniels,” “Airport Bar,” “On the Rocks” & “Someday I Gotta Quit”
Justin Moore • Late Nights and Longnecks • Big Machine • Release: 7.26.19
Photo Credit: Big Machine