Kip Moore promises he'll perform his vulnerable album closer "Payin' Hard" as soon as he's allowed to get in front of fans again. It's a song — perhaps the song — from Wild World that will resonate deepest with those who've loved and lost.

It's also a song that leaves a few unanswered questions.

Talking to Taste of Country earlier this year, the now-40-year-old Moore described "Payin' Hard" as his most personal ever.

"I think that it's a very direct mirror on what I was feeling during this specific time of my life of writing this record, when I was completely wiped in every facet, having a lot of questions in my head, wondering if I’d done things the wrong way," he shared. "I’ve always been so consumed with this because I love it so much that I end up neglecting things that are important to me in my life. And I’m starting to find balance and understand that I don’t know if I’m willing to do that anymore."

"That day will come when it comes. I won’t be announcing it. I’ll be the guy that just disappears. There won’t be a farewell cowboy rides away thing for me."

Fans will immediately hear every word of that quote in the three verses, one each about a lost love, his late father and his future. The verse about his future is the most ominous, but the acoustic picker actually begins with memories of an old flame. "Janie" returns after she helped open the Wild World album (May 29) with "Janie Blu."

“Janie is a real character," Moore tells Taste of Country Nights in the above video interview. "I do that a lot with my records. Mary was all over the first one. I’m never gonna tell you who it is, but there definitely are characters that will influence records at times and different songs. A lot of this is my way of sometimes releasing whatever bones I might have buried in a natural way and trying to process … the feelings I’ve had through the years, that way I can move on from it."

"My life's a credit card / Play now, pay later and I'm paying hard," he sings at the chorus of "Payin' Hard."

wild world kip moore album cover
UMG Nashville

While remarkable for the storytelling and honesty, this song from Wild World is also representative of the creative classical guitar work that defines the second half of the album. Moore asks for — and receives — more from his studio players than ever before. Quiet riffs pin "Sweet Virginia" and open "South," tracks 10 and 11. Where the album shines more than any of his previous three on MCA Nashville is in the intricate soundscapes that complement his lyricism. This song — just under three minutes in length — is perhaps his finest album closer for all of these reasons, and because he digs deeper than ever before.

Moore's father Stanley died in 2011 after a battle with cancer, and he had not yet unpacked those emotions on an album in obvious ways. The "She's Gone" singer has spoken about the pain with a few trusted moderators, but never in a way as clear cut as the second verse of "Payin' Hard." He tells Taste of Country Nights' Evan and Amber that again, this is therapy.

"I always put the anchor as the last track. From 'Guitar Man,' to 'Comeback Kid' to 'Faith When I Fall,' I think about the last song on all three records, that's been a crowd favorite," he says. "I just know the audience and I know this is going to be one of those, too."

"And now he's gone, the kind of gone that don't come back / I only see him now in dreams that I have / I gotta live with that, lose sleep with that / When I close my eyes I'll die with that, yeah."  

That leaves a final verse that finds Moore wiped out, but not giving up.

"So long my friends, I guess this is my farewell / Damn all these pennies swimming in my wishing well / Told every single story that I have to tell / I'll live with that, sleep with that, make my peace and I'll die with that, yeah," he sings.

“That’s just how I felt in the moment," he says when asked if he's hinting at some sort of retirement. "I’m looking forward to getting out, and I got a lot left in me. That day will come when it comes. I won’t be announcing it. I’ll be the guy that just disappears. There won’t be a farewell cowboy rides away thing for me."

Moore spoke to Taste of Country Nights from BedRock at the Red, his rock climbing lodge in eastern Kentucky.

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