Rising country star Kip Moore could have recorded the follow-up to his 2012 debut album in Nashville's plushest studios, but the 33-year-old "Somethin' 'Bout a Truck" singer chose a bare-bones setting that literally had more roaches than luxuries.
"No TV, no couches, no nothing in there," Moore said on the phone last week from the road. "It helped play a mind trick on me, too. I like that feeling of being on edge and not being happy where I was."
The setup is contrived, but for Moore — who performs Friday at Patriot Center as apart of Lady Antebellum's Take Me Downtown Tour — it produced the results he desired.
The first offering from Moore's currently untitled sophomore album, due April 29, is "Young Love," a starry-eyed anthem seemingly tailored for a Nicholas Sparks movie. Moore, who co-wrote the song, said the song's inspiration came from watching some long-standing marriages and relationships "fizzle out."
"It's funny how when you're really young, especially in those formidable teenage years, there's just this reckless abandonment," Moore said. "I don't know where that goes, but that innocence you have as you're young, a lot of that gets lost and jaded."
"Young Love" is a nostalgic look backward, like many of the songs on Moore's first album, "Up All Night." Aside from the platinum-selling single "Truck," his debut had other hits, including the optimistic "Hey Pretty Girl" and "Beer Money," an ode to partying all night.
But overall, the second album, which he described as "more gritty and bigger sounding," finds him less concerned with the past and writing more in the moment. Moore — who grew up studying the songwriting techniques of Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen and Willie Nelson — admitted the shift in tone made writing more difficult, but the challenge was necessary to improve as an artist and songwriter.
"I love the first [album] but I feel like I'm taking a step up," he said. "I feel like it's more of the record I wanted to make."
Years of songwriting and touring have instilled confidence in Moore, he said. During the recording process, the singer left little doubt of who was in charge.
"It was knowing more of how to get the sound of what I wanted when I went into the studio, and not letting anybody tell me different," Moore said. "I'm fine with being that bear in the room now."
Success has also emboldened Moore. He called the new album a "no apologies record," and Moore expects to shock and upset some listeners with some of the album's topics. The next single could be a song called "I'm to Blame," he said, which makes no excuses for his behavior.
"There might be a couple of songs on there ... about some things I partake in, from time to time, that you might not," he said. "I just think I was a lot more open on this record than maybe I was on the first."
Ultimately, Moore said, in more explicit language than can be printed here, he does not care if he offends.
"I'm sure there will be some people that are like, '[gasps] I don't like him anymore!'" Moore said. "You have to know you're going to lose 'em and you're going to gain 'em, too. And I'm OK with that, man."
If you go
Kip Moore performs Feb. 21 at Patriot Center, 4500 Patriot Circle, Fairfax, Va. Kacey Musgraves and Lady Antebellum will also perform. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $59.50. Call 703-993-3000 or go to patriotcenter.com.