For many of us fans, Niko Moon's debut album--an extension of his Good Time EP-- brings some welcome positivity to our personal playlists. For Moon, it's a mile marker in a trek he's walked alongside musically-inclined kinfolks and famous friends.
Moon was born in Tyler, Texas, but at age 10, his family relocated to Douglas County, Ga. Circumstances placed Moon close to more than neighboring Paulding County: the home of the country singer who'd inspire his career choice, Travis Tritt. He was also a short ride on Interstate 20 from Atlanta, where the likes of Goodie Mob and Outkast reigned supreme (not that a '90s kid in Georgia had to be from the metro area to discover the best homegrown hip-hop artists). Just as The Eagles and Bob Seger shaped Tritt's vision for country music, the multi-genre soundtrack of Moon's graduating class flavors his studio creations. That's why "Good Time," a No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts, makes sense as a "Dixieland Delight" homage and cause for a Shaggy collaboration.
Before pop culture charted Moon's creative roadmap to Nashville, his parents instilled in him a love of such storytellers like John Prine and Patty Griffin.
"I grew up in a real musical household," Moon told Wide Open Country. "Both of my parents play music and write music, so I was just born into it. I always wanted to do something in music. I didn't know exactly what, whether as a songwriter or an artist, a producer or an engineer. I've always said I wanted to be a part of music."
After high school, Moon paid dues by playing acoustic sets at dive bars and restaurants in the West Georgia region and around Atlanta. For instance, he regularly appeared at the Dixie Tavern, a Cobb County venue where the Zac Brown Band (ZBB) first cut its teeth as performers.
"I learned a lot about my voice, what my sound was, how to keep a crowd entertained, you know, when you're playing cover songs," Moon said. "It was a great learning experience. That was kind of my college education, playing those places."
The huge leap from playing cover songs in bars to writing fresh material cut by Rascal Flatts, Dierks Bentley, Morgan Wallen and others began when Zac Brown happened to catch one of Moon's sets. A steady gig writing for ZBB (Moon co-wrote "Homegrown" and "Heavy is the Head," just to name two) followed, as did a relocation from the Atlanta area to Nashville.
"He's a good dude," Moon said of Brown, his Sir Rosevelt bandmate. "We've been buddies for a long time and he saw me play at a bar one night. He thought I was good and liked what I was doing. It was the start of a long, cool, collaborative relationship between us. I was at a place where I didn't know what to do. I had really kind of developed a name for myself around town, but outside of that, I didn't know where to take it next. And he came along and kind of showed me the ropes."
An easy-to-romanticize journey from songwriter to the stars to Sony Music Nashville/RCA Nashville recording artist becomes just plain romantic when you skim the credits of Good Time and see that Moon's wife, fellow singer-songwriter Anna Moon, is a frequent collaborator. In fact, she co-wrote every song on the album, aside from a cover of Tritt's "It's a Great Day to Be Alive."
"She's a phenomenal, phenomenal songwriter and she knows me better than anybody, so who better to write with?" Moon said.
Anna's way with words and the continued influence of Tritt makes for an album that's a needed pick-me-up in our current situation.
"That's definitely what I'm going for with the album," Moon added. "Hopefully it will make people happy. I love people and I love country music and I love making people happy with country music. When you hear it, I hope it makes you feel good."
Good Time Tracklist
1. "No Sad Songs" (Niko Moon/Anna Moon/Joshua Murty/Steven Lee Olsen/Alysa Vanderheym)
2. "Way Back" (Niko Moon/Anna Moon/Joshua Murty)
3. "Paradise to Me" (Niko Moon/Anna Moon/Joshua Murty)
4. "Last Call" (Niko Moon/Anna Moon/Joshua Murty)
5. "Dance With Me" (Niko Moon/Anna Moon/Joshua Murty)
6. "Good Time" (Niko Moon/Jordan Minton/Anna Moon/Joshua Murty/Mark Trussell)
7. "Let It Ride" (Niko Moon/Anna Moon/Joshua Murty)
8. "She Ain't You" (Niko Moon/Anna Moon/Joshua Murty)
9. "Small Town State of Mind" (Niko Moon/Anna Moon/Joshua Murty)
10. "Good at Loving You" (Niko Moon/Blake Bollinger/Anna Moon/Joshua Murty)
11. "Without Sayin' a Word" (Niko Moon/Anna Moon/Joshua Murty)
12. "Drunk Over You" (Niko Moon/Anna Moon/Joshua Murty)
13. "Diamond" (Niko Moon/Anna Moon/Joshua Murty)
14. "It's a Great Day to Be Alive"(Darrell Scott)