“When I moved to Nashville, I had yet to really travel and see the world,” singer-songwriter Kip Moore tells Apple Music. “Even though I had a burning desire to, I was limited in my own experiences.” He involved himself in every facet of how his music’s made and presented all along, but started giving expression to his deeper yearnings and sense of wanderlust as he trekked across the globe either performing for crowds or getting away from it all. “I think I was gaining confidence through the years in my own abilities, and believing more and more my own voice and what I had to say.” The songs on Moore’s fourth album—all but one of which he co-wrote and produced on his own—harness unsettled emotions that more happy-go-lucky hitmakers probably wouldn’t touch. “I've been carrying around certain pieces of regret,” he says. “There's been old bones that I've dug holes for, that I've suppressed. I think that all those things I started kind of rehashing—the desire to be alone, and find simplicity and joy, those kinds of things.” Here he tells the stories behind each track on Wild World.
Janie Blu “I think that we always have people that we had super close bonds with in life. The regret begins with knowing that you didn't give that person everything they deserve, and that you should have, and that you could have. As heart-wrenching as that song is, we wanted to put this dreamlike melody on top of it, to kind of play a trick on you, where if you would have heard it in another language, you would never know that it's that heavy of a song. That's one guitar take, and we loved the flaws that happen in there. That was beautiful playing by Dave Nassie, my guitar player.”
Southpaw “I've always felt like a bit of an outsider, but I woke up really feeling like I was on the outside that morning, and feeling alone in that sense of ‘I'm not supposed to be here right now. I don't know how we got here.’ I feel like we are truly in the middle of a generation that all we do is complain the minute things aren't going our way. I can't relate to those kinds of things. I was a boxing fan growing up, and a southpaw was always a very rare sighting, an unusual fighter, and you couldn't prepare for him. I just did the whole thing as a metaphor for that.”
Fire and Flame “I'm constantly in a state of searching for that elusive joy and peace. You get it for fleeting moments, and then you don't have it. And when you are searching, you are going to get burned sometimes. For me, it was more of trying to figure out where I fit in the whole spiritual realm, and what God looks like to me. I've always had my faith, and I've never shied away from that. But I always push it away. Even knowing that about myself, knowing that that's where I find the most peace, I still run back into the world. That's the whole line of ‘He took my hand and I shook it free.’"
Wild World “My dad was the king of one-liners. My mom was a lot more long-form—she would break down a whole story for you. But they were both very encouraging, in the sense of encouraging me to do my own walk, to stay my own man: ‘Don't let the world try to tell you what's the right way to go, but figure it out on your own, and trust in that, and trust in yourself, and keep that wild spirit about you.’ They were always telling me that there's not one way to do this life. We're all programmed from the day we're born: You go about these steps. You go to school, then you have a baby, then you get married, and you go to college. You get a house, and you get a dog. We're constantly pressing that upon each other. They never did that with me. And that's a lot more of what that song is saying, is go about life on your terms.”
Red White Blue Jean American Dream “That song was initially recorded very folky, and then we ended up stripping it back down to the nuts and bolts and changing up the phrasing a little bit and bringing that old American rock ’n’ roll element to the song. That's one of my favorites on the record, and I can't wait to play that one live. That song is preaching the simplicities in life, and longing for the right things.”
She’s Mine “I wrote it years ago, but the first couple times I tried to record it, we smoothed out the edges too much. It just always felt a little vanilla, and it wasn't hitting right. So I stepped away from it for years, and I came back to it and kind of figured out what I wanted that opening riff to be, and started working it up with the band, and it finally came to life. It's pretty straightforward. I wrote it from a sense of when I first started touring, and understanding now that my life was completely different, flipped upside down, and everything in my life was coming at me from different angles. I was also aware that relationships are going to come from a different place now too, and I'm going to meet so many different kinds of people.”
Hey Old Lover “‘Hey Old Lover’ was one of those things where it just spontaneously fell out in a fun way. Dan Couch and I were actually writing another song, and then I started ripping around on that riff. It wasn't like we were specifically thinking about anything in particular; those opening lines of the chorus kind of fell out. Then it just became that songwriting process of trying to be clever and fun with the song and writing around the initial feeling that we had.”
Grow on You “That song started with the music and the chorus, and I was riffing around on that melody. And I was spouting out different lines from the chorus, but they weren't quite put together. I'm telling them an old story about how it took a little time with somebody, and sometimes you just got to hang in there. Then Westin Davis pieced together some things that I was saying. When he said, ‘Like an ivy up a hickory down in muddy Mississippi,’ we all were just like, ‘Man, what a hooky piece of phrasing right there.’”
More Than Enough “I can remember I stepped outside and came up with that line ‘If Uncle Sam goes and steals my money, I'm good with a spoonful of your sweet honey.’ It was just kind of a thing of, at the end of the day, I know that you can't take any of this with you. Sometimes I get worried about that, because I've finally made a little something for myself, and I understand that at any time, banks could crash and this and that. There's going to always be something to be scared of. I truly believe that if you have the things that you truly care about around you, you're going to be able to figure things out. But I was in such a search at that time to stay as grounded as I could and find a way to get back to that way of living.”
Sweet Virginia “What I wanted people to get from this song is, so often we're so unclear. I think now more than ever, it's like everyone's scared to put their cards on the table. I feel like when you listen to stories of your grandparents and even your parents, everything was a lot more direct in those times. Now everything seems to be more of a game. A lot of times you might be feeling something strongly, but there seems to be someone not having clarity on one side or the other.”
South “We literally came up with that entire foundation that you hear in that song in about a total of 10 minutes in a sound check. Those are the kind of moments, personally, that I live for. I didn't dream about being an artist; I dreamed about being in a band. I wanted to be in the Heartbreakers as a kid. So for me, those are the magical moments, more than even writing in a room with another writer. And it was, we were all kind of looking at each other. ‘South’ was one of those songs where we rehearsed that thing 90 million times before we went in and recorded it, because we wanted it to be one long take, and no cut and splice. There's a lot of space in that song, and everybody's part had a place. We spent forever working at that outro, to make it this one big exploding thing at the end.”
Crazy for You Tonight “I've always tried to remain authentic with myself when writing those kinds of songs. There's a very specific line: ‘I don't care what your friends are saying/And to tell the truth, girl, they might be right.’ I try to present my own flaws, but there's still a sense of confidence throughout the song, because that's truly how I feel. So that's what's neat about a song like that.”
Payin’ Hard “I was really close with my dad growing up—very, very close. And there's been a big void since he's been gone, and a lot of regret. It was hard to navigate early in my career; when he was dying is when all my success was starting to happen. I'd try to go see him when I thought that I could, for two or three days, and then I'd go back out on the road, feeling like promoters might write me off if I cancel these big dates that I had already signed up for. I've carried that regret for years, of how my guitar has been the thing that I've just constantly gone to, and I've neglected all these other important areas of my life—relationships, friendships, these kinds of things that have suffered because of being gone so much. So I think that song was digging up bones, and facing them, and trying to find a way to put it to rest and forgive myself.”