Off the Beaten Path by Justin Moore

Justin is actually one of the few artists who can credibly lay claim to a backwoods, rural upbringing.

Unfortunately, we are beaten into submission with this notion on Off the Beaten Path, which mostly serves up an array of clichéd, mediocre tunes about the majesty of the country lifestyle.

Why Southern-based writers and stars continue this assault is anyone’s guess. The Midwest is also a wonderful place to live, but you don’t hear folks from Ohio and Indiana prattling on endlessly about it. Same with the Pacific Northwest.

As to this particular album, tunes like “Country Radio,” “Lettin’ the Night Roll” and the title track all roll out the usual references to dashboards, floorboards, Chevys and drinking, and it all seems so calculated. The absolute nadir arrives with “I’d Want It to Be Yours,” a salute, such as it is, to the female derrière that appears written by a cadre of snickering 12-year-old schoolboys. 

What’s especially sad about this collection is that there are some real gems here.

“Point at You,” for one example, is arguably Justin’s finest single to date. “One Dirt Road” serves as a touching reflection on mortality, while “Old Habits” features a striking guest vocal from Miranda Lambert.

Also noteworthy is the stuttering guitar intro on “Old Back in the New School,” which contains the cool line, Johnny rocked and Willie rolled.

Justin continues to shine as a vocalist, but there should have been better ways to showcase his prowess. 

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