“Once you get on the hamster wheel, it’s hard to get off of it,” country star Justin Moore tells Apple Music Radio’s Kalleigh Bannen about the music industry. On the heels of releasing his sixth studio album, Straight Outta The Country, the Arkansas native speaks to peace he found off the road. Across eight tracks, the vetted artist captures a moment of pause from his career chaos, evoking nostalgia for his own upbringing by returning to his hometown roots.
His lead single, “We Didn’t Have Much”—penned by Paul DiGiovanni, Randy Montana, Jeremy Stover—reckons with the complexities that come with success, and a blurred vision of what is important. Moore first heard the song pre-pandemic, certain verses really struck a chord, bringing him back to certain moments of his youth. Back in Arkansas with his family, watching a pandemic ensue outside the bounds of their farm, pored over the concept of home.
“After all this stuff hit us and we were sent home, and we watched the world change around us…it magnified what I thought about it before,” says Moore. A podcast conversation with Tracy Lawrence after their tour was canceled got him thinking about the song again. Lawrence discussed the stripped back simplicity of life at home, and the joy of daily chores or interactions that are lost on a more modern world—like borrowing eggs from neighbors.
Considering the lyrics, inventorying simple pleasures like Sunday chicken and a NASCAR race, Moore felt the sentiment more than ever: Sure’d be nice to get back to that place. He continues, “I just thought people would relate to it on an even deeper level, because I’ve learned over the years with different songs, if it’s something I’m going through or something I can relate to then usually there’s a lot of people out there in the same boat.”
Raised in a lower-middle-class family from a town of 300 people, Moore’s goal is always to remain even-keeled. He was slow to adjust to financial success and fame in the early days of his career and relays the stress still involved in navigating the extreme highs and lows. Family, however, is a constant.
Time off the road allowed for quality time and often missed opportunities for conversations with his kids. He detailed one particular talk with his 11-year-old daughter about “one of her little buddies that was having boyfriend troubles.” He laughs, telling Bannen, “I’m going ‘No, no, no, we’re not going there right now, it’s way too early for that.'”
“More Than Me,” which Bannen describes it as a “love letter written in stone,” is the product of what he told his daughter next. Moore explains, “I said, ‘Look, one of these days, a long time from now, you’re going to find somebody that loves you a lot and they better love you a whole lot. They’d better get close to me, but they ain’t never going to love you more than I do. I promise you.’ Co-written with DiGiovanni, McGill, and Stover — who are also parents — “More Than Me” became a love letter to his children.
Moore, now 36 years old, adds, “I try to tell them I love them every single day, a hundred times, all of them, but they’ll have this long after I’m gone, and can play it to remind them of maybe how much.”
Listen to Justin Moore’s full conversation with Kalleigh Bannen on Apple Music’s Today’s Country Radio here. Listen to Straight Outta The Country below.