Photographers: Jason Meyers; Dustin Haney.
Justin Moore toughened up his attack on 2013's Off the Beaten Path, his third album and one that found him developing a distinctive modern rocking country that avoided the smiling swagger of bro country. Moore specialized in fusing second-hand honky tonk tradition, Heartland rock, and brawny country-rock in the vein of Hank Williams Jr., plus he had an easy way with a ballad as the hit "Lettin' the Night Roll" showed. Arriving in the summer of 2016, Kinda Don't Care accentuates all these elements, but slyly threads in pieces of the R&B-inflected country that dominated the airwaves in the three years between albums. Moore wisely doesn't attempt quick-stepping hip-hop inflections à la Sam Hunt -- he's too deliberate a singer for that -- but "Somebody Else Will" is a slow, soulful burner and "Got It Good" skips along to a buoyant beat. About a third of the record in its lengthy deluxe incarnation is dressed in this contemporary sheen, and the remarkable thing about Kinda Don't Care is how this doesn't sound like pandering: it feels like an outgrowth of his ballad side. Also, it complements the rowdy and rootsy elements of the record, making them hit a little harder. At times, Moore's rebellion can feel a little canned -- the growl of "More Middle Fingers" is a bit silly -- but usually, he gets by on his casual authority and sturdily constructed songs. No matter the sound, this is the constant on Kinda Don't Care: Moore is quietly confident, probably because he knows he has the goods. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine