The intensity and urgency in Kip Moore's songs has prompted a comparison he likes: A writer for "Music Row Magazine" called Moore "a hillbilly Springsteen."
"Those who know me know how fiery I am," says Moore, who plays Friday night in West Palm Beach as part of a lineup that includes Tim McGraw and Cassadee Pope. "I'm very hard on myself and I cherish what I do."
That intensity, he says, is why he selected "Dirt Road" as a single that's a prelude to his upcoming album.
"I just wanted to subtly set the tone for the edginess for what this record is going to be," he says.
The song is his response to a preacher's promise of "mansions" and "streets lined with gold" for those who live right.
"You don't like anyone telling you what to do and every single week listening to hell fire and damnation," he says. "It kind of turned me off."
"I said 'Well, that doesn't sound like someplace I'd want to go,' he says, adding that the song is not really just about a dirt road. "It's about that old way of life. It's about appreciating the things I valued at the time.
"Almost like the scene in 'Footloose.'"
Moore grew up in Tifton, Ga., and spent six months after college surfing and chilling in Hawaii – until a friend told him he should pursue songwriting. So he worked as a store manager at Abercrombie and Fitch in Nashville for four years, waiting for a break.
"I got kicked in the teeth for several years," he says. "I was driving the van [on tour] even into our second [hit]. I wanted to wait."
Moore, 34, feels like he's getting his payback now. He shot out of the gate in 2011 with Billboard Country Music No. 1 "Somethin' 'Bout A Truck," followed by "Beer Money" and "Hey Pretty Girl," all of which he either wrote or co-wrote.
He has played in South Florida often, including twice at the Tortuga Music Festival in Fort Lauderdale and on tours here with Kenny Chesney, Eric Church and Luke Bryan.
He says it's a "100 percent goal" to headline arenas and stadiums, like those three have.
"I learn from them every day, but I don't feel like there's a big gulf between them and me," he says. "I've worked my ass off many, many years to get to this moment. I've studied hard and I'm very comfortable out there."
Moore announced last week that this fall he will headline CMT on Tour 2014: Up in Smoke. The tour will kick off on Sept. 25 in New York and will hit over 20 cities through November.
The biggest part, he says, is "I have to have more material that people know. But I can't wait to stretch my legs and play longer than 45 minutes."
The concert Friday, which McGraw headlines, is the first in a series of five country shows at Cruzan this summer. Others are Brad Paisley, Aug. 16; Rascal Flatts, Sept. 13; Luke Bryan, Sept. 27; and Jason Aldean, Oct. 18.
Who: Cassadee Pope, Kip Moore and Tim McGraw
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Cruzan Amphitheater, 601-7 Sansbury's Way, West Palm Beach
Tickets: $40.75 to $85.70