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Back to roots: Justin Moore returns to traditional country on new album

Justin Moore is going back to his roots.

Country singer Justin Moore is headlining this year’s Music Fiesta at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. (Courtesy of Cody Villalobos)

It’s a decision that is suiting him just fine after a three-year break between albums.

“It’s good to finally have some music out there,” he says. “It took me a while to get the album out because I went back to doing traditional county. I did some things a little differently with this album. It doesn’t sound like anything I’ve done in the past.”

Moore is touring in support of his latest album, “Late Nights and Longnecks,” released on July 26.

The 35-year-old country singer-songwriter is the headliner at this year’s Music Fiesta at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta on Saturday, Oct. 12.

He will be joined by rising country singer Cassadee Pope and New Mexico’s Tylor Brandon and the Neon West Band.

Moore has grown into a powerhouse since his self-titled debut in 2009.

On his 2016 album, “Kinda Don’t Care,” Moore worked with different producers and took a more pop route to country music.

When work began for “Late Nights and Longnecks,” he knew he wanted to tip his hat to his influences, including Alan Jackson and George Strait, who always paint a portrait of daily life.

He went back to the Florida recording studio where he began his career.

Illustration by C. Cunningham/Journal

“Before I ever had a record deal, my producer (Jeremy Stover) and I used to pop down to the beach in Florida and write for three or four days at a time,” he says. “I wanted to reconnect with that spirit on this new album, so I said, ‘Let’s go work down there again like we used to 10, 12 years ago.’ ”

Moore, Stover and a small group locked themselves inside the Florida studio and wrote songs.

He says the album is much more mature-sounding than his earlier work.

“That comes with life experience,” he says. “It came natural and easy. It was five or six buddies hanging out and drinking beer. I think it comes across on the entire record. We were all very appreciative to our wives to let us get away to the studio and do the record we wanted.”

While fun was had by the entire crew, Moore says the album is not about all journeys to the bottom of the bottle.

The tender “That’s My Boy” explores the timeless bond a father shares with his son, while the driving “Small Town Street Cred” celebrates the uncomplicated joys of rural living, and the emotional “The Ones That Didn’t Make It Back Home” honors the soldiers, nurses, first responders and teachers who have made the ultimate sacrifice to help make the world a better place.

“Every night onstage when I would introduce ‘If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away,’ I’d dedicate it to the ones who didn’t make it back home,” he says. “One night it hit me that that needed to be its own song. It’s fun to have hit records and all that, but the thing I’m most proud of as an artist is when I hear from people that the songs I sing helped them get through a difficult time in their life. I hope this song can have that kind of impact on folks.”

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