Singer/songwriter Steve Moakler treated some lucky invited guests to a preview of his new album, “Blue Jeans,” at a release party at Nashville photography studio VUE, a few days prior to the record’s release. During the afternoon festivities, Moakler sat down with S&E Nashville and shared his insights into the record, which draws heavily from his own real-life experiences. “Every song is a story about my life,” says the Pittsburgh-born artist. “Some are incredibly specific and exact and some take a few liberties. But they are all the things I’ve experienced since moving to Nashville in 2006.”
In that nearly decade-and-a-half, Moakler has made steady strides, writing cuts for various artists while building his own reputation as an all-around performer. The resume includes some impressive writing credits, including Dierks Bentley’s hit “Riser” along with “Mardi Gras” from Bentley’s “Black” album, “Surefire Feeling” by Jake Owen and “If Love Was Fair,” recorded by Ashley Monroe. But he’s creating an even bigger buzz as a solo artist. His previous album “Born Ready,” inspired by his travels on the road, caught fire with reviewers for its steely mix of classic rock rhythms and blue collar, working class testaments. Moakler drew favorable comparisons to folks like Bruce Springsteen and Bob Seger.
That’s certainly a reflection of his working class, Pittsburgh-based roots. “Where I come from,” Moakler says with a smile, “people either like classic rock or country. That’s what I grew up around. I think there is a blue collar feel to my music, because of my background.” The influences are clearly felt on the title cut, punctuated by Moakler’s gritty vocals. He notes that the tune stands as a metaphor for his time in Nashville. “The hook, ‘Breakin’ in this life like a pair of blue jeans,’ is the key,” Moakler says. “I see that song as the overarching storyline to the album. The other songs are more about specific stories and emotions.”
For Moakler, the project’s most personal cut is easily the new single “’72 Winnebago,” which premiered on digital platforms January 15th. It’s not so much about a vehicle as it is a remembrance of early married life and the struggles of typical newlyweds. Moakler based the song on a trip he and his wife made across the country in one such Winnebago. “It was written about an actual camper that my wife and I had after we got married,” Moakler explains. “We were newlyweds. I was trying to get my career going and she was starting her own jewelry business in our house.” Moakler concocted the inspired idea of the two traveling together in the old camper and trying to get people to host them for a night of music. There was a second purpose, namely to promote his wife’s handiwork. “So, we went on this campgrounds tour, and the song tells the story of that.” Moakler says. “It has a lot of meaning for our family.” Another cut from the album, “Push,” was similarly inspired by the relationship with his wife.
The hard work and persistence are beginning to pay dividends, 14 years after making the move to Music City. “It doesn’t really feel like it’s been that long,” he tells S&E Nashville. “The goal for me was always to make a living playing original music. I just wanted to have that life of doing what I love with people I love. I came to Nashville through the back door, it feels like,” he adds with a slight laugh. “I didn’t really know what I was stepping into or how to go about the business. I love the process of writing and performing and I’m glad there were people who noticed that and took an interest in me. So I have been very fortunate.”
Steve Moakler’s new album “Blue Jeans” will be released January 17th. A spring tour will also be announced shortly. For more on Moakler and his music, please visit his website and follow him on social media.