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Is Kip Moore country music's next biggest star?

By Mike Ayers, Special to CNN
updated 2:10 PM EDT, Tue May 22, 2012
Georgia native Kip Moore attends the Country Music Awards in April.
Georgia native Kip Moore attends the Country Music Awards in April.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kip Moore's debut album, "Up All Night," landed in Billboard 200's Top 10
  • "Somethin' 'Bout a Truck" has been certified gold and has sold more than 700,000 digital singles
  • "I try to just speak it like how I felt people would say it," Moore says

(CNN) -- The first week his debut album, "Up All Night," came out, Kip Moore found himself nestled in the Billboard 200's Top 10 between the likes of Jack White, Adele, Lionel Richie, Nicki Minaj and Jason Mraz. The late April release landed at No. 6, an impressive showing for a guy who's released two singles so far.

But one of those singles -- a joyous country-rock tune called "Somethin' 'Bout a Truck," an ode to rule breakin' with a girl on the tailgate of a truck bed -- has done remarkably well since its release in September. It's been certified gold and has sold more than 700,000 digital singles, with the video viewed nearly 7 million times on YouTube. For Moore fans, the appetite for more music has been growing steadily for about seven months.

And it couldn't come at a better time for the Georgia native, who's been primarily making his living in Nashville over the last four years as a songwriter with a publishing deal as well as a touring musician, playing bars and small clubs across the country.

"I've been writing about two songs a day for about seven or eight years," the 32-year-old singer told CNN from a tour stop in New Hampshire last month. "(When I moved to) Nashville, it was a move because that's what I really wanted to do. I think it's natural when you get to a town like that, you question, 'Are you good enough?' every single day.

"I was below the bar I needed to be when I first got there. I questioned going home all the time my first few years. You see your friends around you building a foundation with their jobs, retirement, family -- not that those things are what I want now, but you could look up, and you're 40 years old -- all of a sudden you have nothing to show for it."

Before moving to Nashville in the early 2000s with songwriting aspirations, Moore credits the time he spent in Hawaii after college for helping him get his songwriting skills up to snuff.

He'd grown up on artists such as Bob Seger, Jackson Browne and Willie Nelson. As a kid, he fondly recalls his father playing their music often in the car on the way to go fishing on the Gulf Coast, but he didn't really know what he wanted to do with his life until he hit the big island.

"I lived in a little hut with a backpack and went to the beach every day," Moore recalled. "I wrote a lot of songs out there. 'Everything But You' is strictly from that experience. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I've always been a little bit like that. I worked a bunch of odd jobs, but I realized out there that with my personality, unless I was doing music, there was no way I was going to be happy."

It's been noted that Moore has that blue-collar Bruce Springsteen thing going on, and you can certainly hear that scruff in his voice at times, along with a healthy dose of rock 'n' roll fused within all of his songs.

But on "Up All Night," Moore doesn't sing about the plight of the working class; instead, he's much more apt to detail life after the whistle blows and the paycheck's been cashed. The joys of ice cold beer, sunshine, a favorite girl in a favorite sundress -- he spins all of these notions into simple stories that sound blissful, with a little bit of a devilish streak to them.

"Sometimes a songwriter can get in the way of things," he said. "I try to just speak it like how I felt people would say it. How I would say it. I feel like people are relating to how I say it, and people are moved by some of those songs."

Moore's slated to spend most of the summer on the road, playing a mixture of club dates and state fairs, and he's finally ready to admit that he might just make it as a musician.

"Recently, we've been selling out these clubs and see how rabid these people are for the music," he said. "They knew all these tracks before they'd been released. I've felt this wave in the past two weeks, where I've thought things might be all right."

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