11. Kip Moore, 'Slowheart'
Kip Moore's always been one of Music Row's most defiant ones: insistent on recording his own songs, unwilling to keep his opinions silent and unable to play by the rules. And because of it, the genre has had trouble figuring out exactly where to land him, despite a fan base that is quickly reaching an Eric Church-level of dedication. But it all works for Moore on Slowheart, his third record, which rejects current country trends in favor of a raw, rollicking Southern-rock journey that doesn't depict him as anything but an adult man with a weakness for love (or a little casual sex, on the deliciously naughty "I've Been Around,"), a tentative heart (the aching, Motown croon of "Try Again") and an allegiance to music above all else (the album's stunning live-to-tape closer, "Guitar Man"). With Moore overseeing a bulk of the production, Slowheart is strikingly stripped-down while still ringing arena-friendly, and finds a vulnerable artist never content to stay in one place for long. M.M.