Steve Moakler’s next album, Blue Jeans, will be full of specific stories from the Nashville singer/songwriter’s life. That includes the new single “’72 Winnebago,” premiering exclusively on Billboard below and inspired by a cross-country mobile home trip he and his wife took a few years ago to support their respective careers.
“We were just broke newlyweds,” Moakler tells Billboard. “She had her [homemade jewelry] company she started in the attic. I was trying to get my career off the ground. I had this idea of, ‘Hey, what if we could get an old camper and drive around the country and people would host us for a night of music and we’d get the word out about her business?'”
The couple wound up doing 40 Hometowns & Campgrounds Tour shows, traveling in the titular vehicle the Moaklers purchased used from a man in Kentucky.
“We had the time of our lives,” recalls Moakler, who co-wrote Dierks Bentley‘s “Riser,” as well as songs for Reba McEntire, Jake Owen, Ashley Monroe and others and has five albums, an EP and a mixtape of his own. “I felt like we cracked the code and achieved our own system. We got to have a lot of fun and advance our dreams together.” The Moaklers have done four more Hometowns & Campgrounds tours since, though they’ve upgraded from the ’72 Winnebago into something a little nicer.
The rest of Blue Jeans, due Friday, is filled with similar stories and remembrances, drawing from real life more than he has on previous releases. “Almost all these songs I have a very personal experience attached to it,” he acknowledges. “I think it’s easier to write, because you’re pulling from exactly what’s on your heart and what your experience has been. I guess I’ve learned from my heroes and my favorite music is somehow, mysteriously, the most personal story is also the most universal.”
The other major change for the album was the addition of Nick Lobel to the production team. “I wanted the sound to evolve, and Nick brought in so much, so many tools from his belt, to the record,” says Moakler, who plans to hit the road during the spring to promote Blue Jeans. “He’s a musician, too, and kind of a mad scientist/details guy. We would record the record live with the band and then he would take it back to his studio and almost tear it apart and put it back together with other sounds and parts that are really unique. These songs can still hold their own just on an acoustic guitar, but Nick gave them a really cool flavor on the album.”
Hear “’72 Winnebago” below.