Not many have been able to break the code that is Kip Moore.
A rather mysterious character within the often-transparent country music genre, the Georgia native has long kept his sultry soul at arm’s length, perhaps to protect himself from an increasingly ferocious world looking to pounce on the loners and free spirits who still insist on living life on their own terms.
But a select few have been able to break through to the essence of Kip Moore. One of those people is fellow songwriter Dan Couch.
“I’ve learned more from him as a person as I have as a songwriter,” Moore tells American Songwriter, mere days before embarking on a winter getaway. “Dan (Couch) is just one of those ‘salt of the earth’ kind of guys who never has a bad word to say about anybody.”
In the solitude of the pandemic quarantine, the two men worked together, not only on songs, but also on carpentry. Together, they built walls, created ceilings and pounded nails, making their mark on Moore’s newly renovated home in Tennessee. And with every painstaking hour, they learned more about each other.
“As a person and as a songwriter, you want to get around people and build relationships with people that bring out the best in you…and Dan does that for me. He always has.”
It’s this creative partnership that resulted in Moore’s very first number one hit, “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck,” back in 2012, as well as a slew of other hit songs, including “Hey Pretty Girl” and “Last Shot.”
“Dan can sit back and digest everything and not say anything for at least an hour,” chuckles Moore of his time in the writing room with the Indiana native. “And then, all of a sudden, he throws out an entire verse or chorus out of nowhere. It’s a pretty cool thing to watch.”
Their exemplary songwriting features prominently on the new Wild World Deluxe album, a creative continuation of Moore’s fourth studio album that was released mere weeks after the country began its official crusade against COVID-19 back in 2020.
“Wild World Deluxe includes four new songs, but the truth is that we had ten other ones on the table,” says Moore. “I sincerely hope to get a chance to release the other ones someday, but it often just comes down to the flavor of an album. These found songs allowed me to take this record on a little bit of a different journey.”
The album has already seen chart success with “She’s Mine,” penned by Moore, Couch and Scott Stepakoff, and offers four new songs: “Don’t Go Changing,” “Midnight Slow Dance,” “How High” and “Man’s Gotta Do.
“I wrote ‘Man’s Gotta Do’ with Dan and Westin Davis,” recalls Moore, who co-wrote all but two of Wild World Deluxe’s seventeen ambitious tracks. “Westin and I started writing together long before my publishing deal. We would write for hours and hours on our days off. I mean, we would write deep into the night. We would just dream of making it as songwriters together. Westin was the one that actually started [‘Man’s Gotta Do’]. I was playing a guitar riff, and Westin started freestyling that hook and that line, and it just set us off to the races right from there.”
Indeed, Moore counts Davis as another kindred spirit of sorts.
“There are just people who see the world in the same way as you, and Westin is one of those people,” reflects Moore. “We have a really strong bond, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we had a very similar upbringing. Our dads were very similar—hard nose, blue collar kind of guys at times. But every now and then, they taught us a lot too.”
Moore describes Davis as a “freestyle writer” in the writing room. While Moore would traditionally “drive the ship lyrically” with other songwriters, he instead often sits back and lets Davis’ lyrical mind run free and wild.
“You have to pull those lines and sift through them as fast as they are coming because they are coming fast,” chuckles Moore. “Then these golden nuggets fall out, and you have to hold on to them as tightly as you can because they are coming quick, and God knows you might forget them.”
Back in 2019, Moore joined with Davis and songwriter Blair Daly on the soul-searching track “Don’t Go Changing,” which brought with it a thought-provoking music video and a fundraising campaign that raised a substantial amount of money for struggling independent music venues still dealing with the restrictions of the ongoing pandemic.
“The fans stepped up huge on ‘Don’t Go Changing,’ and right from the start, they were just really emotional about that track,” says Moore. “Anytime I can shed light on a good cause, I’m going to do it.”
There is no doubt that the songwriting trio of Moore, Davis and Couch have formed a beautiful and collaborative friendship throughout the years, resulting in authentic and honest music.
“We understand each other,” says Moore. “We are all on the same wavelength. We read each other’s thoughts and movements before they happen. It’s never a challenge as to who gets the line. We go with the best line, and we always know when it happens. It’s never rushed or forced, and that’s why it works.”
Nevertheless, Moore is constantly looking for ways to grow via the chance to work with additional writers. For example, on Wild World Deluxe, which was released February 12, Moore joined Davis, Bobby Terry and Luke Dick on “How High,” a song that looks at love in the most metaphoric of senses.
“Luke Dick has a really interesting approach, whereas the music sparked the feeling of where that song would go lyrically,” Moore remembers. “Once we got going on this one, the writing process went pretty fast. It’s cool to see how Dick’s music will dictate where your mind is going to go. And usually, it goes to a rather unusual and different space.”
It’s a space that increasingly intrigues Moore, especially as the world around him continues its trek into an unusual space of pandemic worries and political divide.
“I have my dark days and I have my days of hope about all of it, but to be honest, those days of hope are a bit of a forced hope,” admits Moore. “I have never shied away from my faith, and if I have faith, I will always have hope.”
Moore’s voice tends to reveal a greater depth of emotion than he usually shows to the outside world. Moore has long looked to live life in a simpler way, within a simpler time, with a simpler way of doing things. But make no mistake, Moore is a man who sees the underpinnings of society in a way few can. He effortlessly predicts things before they happen, and he anticipates a kind of social train wreck in the days, weeks and months ahead.
“When I look at the world and what technology has done to us…” he says, letting his voice fade away. “Technology is making us all feel like we have to constantly voice our angers, and that turns us into a nasty society. (Pauses.) I don’t know how that turns around. I guess we are going to get to a point that we have enough of how we are treating each other.”
It can be almost too much to bear for everyone, himself included.
“Songwriting is my release,” concludes Moore, who created an entire new record in 2020 while quarantining within his Tennessee retreat. “Writing has been huge for my mental state during these crazy days. It’s been a huge creative outlet for me.”
And while the world changes, Moore has determined that his music and his work ethic will not.
“You are certainly not going to see a different me, on and off the stage,” concludes Moore. “I’ve been the guy that, it doesn’t matter what show, puts his foot on the gas all the way through. I’ve never just went through the motions. I lay it all out there every single night. That won’t change.”
Then he reconsiders for a moment.
“Actually, once we get back up on that stage, you might get a slightly more amped up version, that’s for sure.”
Photo Credit: Cedrick Jones