Justin Moore’s New Album ‘Stray Dog’ Doesn’t Stray From His Traditional Country Sound: “It’s What I Enjoy Doing Most”

Justin Moore country music

Justin Moore doesn’t miss.

The underrated country music veteran just dropped his seventh studio album, Stray Dog. And I think it’s safe to say that Justin is somehow making some of the best music of his career.

And despite the fact that Justin’s managed to rack up eleven career number one hits over an impressive 16-year career, the superstar still considers himself a bit of a “stray dog” in country music.

During an exclusive interview with Whiskey Riff, Justin discussed the inspiration for the album title – and sometimes feeling like an outsider in his own industry:

“Radio has been really, really good to me and is the reason I’m still relevant. The fans have been great to me. There have been folks in this industry who have been great to me.

The awards shows have not. So there are some things in my career that have gone fantastically, and there are things that I go, ‘What the hell, man?’

And so that’s kind of what the song represents.”

Well he may not have the awards to show for it (and let’s be honest, nobody gives a shit about those anyway), but what Justin does have is a solid album of real-deal, traditional country music.

In fact, if you listened to his last two albums, Late Nights and Longnecks and Straight Outta the Country, you might think that Stray Dog is just the third part of one long album.

And Justin says that’s because starting with those albums, he finally felt like he was able to get back to doing what he wants to do: Make traditional country music.

“I think our first two albums were really in the same kinda path or pattern as these last few. In the middle of my career is when radio changed completely. When I first came out it was traditional sounding on the radio.

‘Small Town USA,’ if it came out in 2012 or 2013, I don’t know if it would have been a hit. Maybe it would have been, but I don’t know that.

So there were a couple moments where I bent a little bit production-wise, picking singles…

After that I kind of just decided, you know what, I’m gonna go back to doing what I think I do best, which is traditional country music. And it’s what I enjoy doing most.

So that’s kinda what we’ve made a conscious effort to do since that point.”

It’s a strategy that seems to be paying off: Of the five singles he’s released from those three albums so far, four have gone to the top of the charts, with the fifth being his current single “You, Me & Whiskey” with Priscilla Block, that’s sitting in the top 20 and still climbing.

But one thing that you’ll notice when you pull up Stray Dog is that, unlike many of the 30+ song albums that are becoming more of the norm, Justin’s new album has only 8 songs – clocking in at just under 30 minutes.

While Justin admits that he had those discussions with his label – and had many of these new songs ready to go when the last album came out – he felt like keeping his albums shorter is a better strategy for him:

“I feel like you only have so many opportunities, so many moments, minutes, an hour, whatever, to have peoples’ full undivided attention. And so I don’t know if 8 songs is right or if it’s 10 or 12, but 40 to me, for me at least, seems a little much.”

With only 8 songs on the album, Justin was able to make the most of every song he chose to release: And that’s exactly what he did.

The album kicks off with a duet featuring Riley Green, the previously-released “Everybody Get Along,” before moving into the first of the newly released tracks (and one of my two favorite songs on the album), an “anti-drunk dial” heartbreaker called “That Wasn’t Jack.”

There are a lot of “drinking and dialing” songs in country music, but this one takes the idea of drunk dialing and turns it around:

“No it wasn’t the late night crazy
2 in the morning up calling you baby
I wasn’t out with my friends in a real drunk crowd
That ain’t at all how it all went down
It wasn’t the whiskey and a country song
That you were hearing from my end of the phone
All that talk I was talking ’bout missing and wanting you back
That was all me, that wasn’t Jack”

The song was also one of the first that Justin wrote over Zoom during the pandemic, something that he admits was “bizarre” at first:

“It was right at the beginning of the pandemic. Zoom itself, at least to me, was like a brand new thing. So to do something as personal as writing a song together over Zoom was incredible bizarre to me.”

Another one of the standout tracks on the album is “Better Slow,” a song that Justin says was at least partially inspired by the experience of having to say goodbye to a family pet:

“We wrote that song right around the time that my wife and I had to make the decision to put our 16-year old dog down, which was difficult as a grown-up for the first time. I had dealt with that as a kid but my parents made that decision, and for us to have to do that for the first time was tough.

So there’s a line in there alluding to that, and that’s what it always makes me think of.

But I think a lot of times we’re always looking forward to the next thing…

And I think we miss out on today worrying about tomorrow. And I think that song kind of speaks to that. Kinda, ‘Be where your feet are.'”

I’ll admit, the line about the dog gets me every time I hear the song.

Justin lists some things that are “better slow,” including “how you pet your dog that’s barely holdin’ on after twelve years on the porch.”

And then of course there’s the album’s final track, the 50 Cent-inspired “Get Rich or Drunk Trying” – a song about hitting up ladies night at the local bar to find a sugar momma.

When I jokingly pointed out to Justin that there aren’t many sugar momma songs in country music, he said with a laugh:

“I don’t know that there needs to be. I don’t know why I added to that list.”

But the idea for the song – or at least the title – is one that Justin’s had in his head for years, and it finally came together during a writing session with the great Casey Beathard, Paul DiGiovanni, and his producer Jeremy Stover:

“I had the title for like five, six years. And I thought man, if we can write that, that’ll sell some t-shirts right there.

And I didn’t know what it was supposed to be about. I just had the title, and I threw it out for five, six years straight before I got the bite. It’s a fun tune. We’ve been playing it live. I knew it would go over well in that environment.”

And when you look at the lyrics, you can easily see that there’s nothing like it on country radio:

“I’m gonna get rich before last call
To hell with that playin’ that Powerball
Find me a CEO that’s rollin’ in the dough and keep her smiling
I’ll be a martini drinker, get wrapped ’round her finger
Whatever she wants just as long as she’s buyin’
I’m gonna get rich or get drunk tryin'”

It may not be one of the 30+ song albums that seem to have become the trend these days. But Stray Dog is 8 songs of damn good, traditional country music, the kind of music that’s allowed Justin to have #1 hits in three different decades – the kind of staying power that’s a rarity in country music these days, and an accomplishment that’s not lost on Justin.

“I’m just like, ‘Good God, man.’ I mean it’s awesome, but it makes me feel old.”

And while there are some future #1 hits on this album (including his current single, which will likely top the charts), it’s probably not going to win him an ACM Award: The awards shows always seem to overlook Justin – and a lot of real country artists.

But like the “Stray Dog” that he is, it’s something that doesn’t bother Justin anymore.

As we ended our interview, I jokingly asked Justin whether he was excited for the ACM Awards next week:

“I’m excited to NOT go to the ACM Awards and go coach my kids in softball next week.

And print that. I want you to say that.”

Justin may be right about being a Stray Dog in country music, but when it comes to making good country music, this is one dog that doesn’t miss.

Stray Dog Track List:

1. “Everybody Get Along” (with Riley Green) | Justin Moore, David Lee Murphy, Jeremy Stover
2. “That Wasn’t Jack” | Justin Moore, David Lee Murphy, Chris Stevens, Jeremy Stover
3. “With A Woman You Love” | Justin Moore, Paul DiGiovanni, Chase McGill, Jeremy Stover
4. “Better Slow” | Justin Moore, Paul DiGiovanni, Randy Montana, Jeremy Stover
5. “Stray Dogs” | Justin Moore, Paul DiGiovanni, Randy Montana, Jeremy Stover
6. “Country On It” | Justin Moore, Casey Beathard, Paul DiGiovanni, Jeremy Stover
7. “You, Me, And Whiskey” (with Priscilla Block) | Jessi Alexander, Brock Berryhill, Cole Taylor
8. “Get Rich Or Drunk Trying” | Justin Moore, Casey Beathard, Paul DiGiovanni, Jeremy Stover
A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock