Hal Ketchum, 2014

Hal Ketchum photographed in 2014 by Pete Lacker.

Pete Lacker

For a few years, Hal Ketchum lost his musical way. "I just kind of lost my powder for a while," the country singer tells Billboard. "I just didn't feel like playing or writing. One day I just said, 'This is a gift that God has given me, so I better get back to it.'"

With that in mind, Billboard is proud to exclusively premiere the first single from (and title track to) Ketchum's first new album -- I'm The Troubadour -- in six years. This album will be Ketchum's first album since 2008's Father Time, and it's set for an Oct. 7 release on Music Road Records.

"I started writing a handful of songs while living in a log cabin in Wimberley, TX. It just evolved from there," Ketchum tells Billboard. "I demoed a bunch of these songs with my friend, Kenny Grimes, playing guitar. I pitched it to Kelcy Warren at Music Road Records, and he and Jimmy LaFave said, 'We want you to make a record for us.' I'm very happy. It's an amazing gift to be able to come back this strong. I feel like it's the best record I've ever made."

Ketchum tells Billboard that I'm The Troubadour is also one of the most eclectic discs he's made during his career. "It's reminiscent of a record I made with Stephen Bruton years ago called Awaiting Redemption. It had some folk ballads, some R&B and some jazz. The studio musicians on the record made the songs what they are. I wrote the lyrics and the melodies, and turned it over to them. John Silva engineered and mixed the record, and did a great job."

The singer -- whose hits include "Small Town Saturday Night" and "I Know Where Love Lives" -- says it didn't take long to adjust to the studio, likening it to riding a bike. "I know what I'm doing in the studio. Allen Reynolds taught me to do my homework. I knew these songs when I got in and started tracking with the band. I enjoyed being in the studio again, and I'm back on the road. It's just a blessing to be back at this."

Listen above.

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