Sometimes in our lives, we are quick to start trying to plan everything out. We THINK we have some sort of idea what we will be doing two, five, even 20 years from now. Little do we realize, our daily experiences compile and begin to shape who we are. What we thought we would be doing for work may very well not be the case a few years down the road. The same can be said for many music talents. There are some that know what type of music they want to play, and there are others who have a burning passion to just play music. Their brand of music. Sometimes, they aren’t quite sure where they fit in. Well that is quite alright. And if you need any reassurance, take a look at Steve Moakler. The guy from Pittsburgh that moved to Nashville some 10 years ago and all the while has been building up to his excellent 2017 release, Steel Town.
The first time I sat down and listened to this album I knew that this was a different style than my beloved Texas Country. Steel Town is not a typical mainstream album and is almost a roots-rock Americana Style album to me. It’s different, much like Charlie Worsham’s music - and that’s a very good thing.
Having read numerous articles on Moakler, it became clear to me that his original journey to Nashville was not centered around country music. He was unsure of exactly where he would fit into place. It’s not so different from someone like Cody Jinks who sang heavy metal before realizing that country music was his true calling. It’s the experiences in the writing circles and acoustic song swaps that started to shape young Moakler’s style and trajectory. Having some song credits for notable songs recorded by mainstream heavy-weights doesn’t hurt either. Ever heard of Riser by Dierks Bentley?
The album is ripe with Moakler’s reflection and appreciation of his hometown, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and her people. While the steel industry may have receded from that area, the legacy in not only the old buildings lives on - but it’s people. Just give a listen to the exceptional title track to put it all together. Those that gave their all and worked with their weathered hands. Freezing temperatures that make me want to put a jacket on in the dead of August just thinking about it. The way this country once survived and prospered. Those three words that are slowly losing the spotlight today: Blue collared corkers. These are the people that work the long hours in often difficult conditions. The source of your electricity, purchased good, fresh vegetables and the like. To put it simply, the backbone of America.
Steel Town as a whole encompasses the idea that a modern country album doesn’t have to be stale or lacking in some pop elements. Country music revolves around the lyrics more than anything else. There should be a message or story that is shared and the past decade has resulted in a departure from this style. Sure, on Steel Town you will hear some catchy licks and beats such as those as on Suitcase and Jealous Girl. The message on Suitcase rivals a song like Chris Janson’s Buy Me A Boat because it takes the attention off of all the material things in life. Written by Thomas Rhett (raises eyebrow), Luke Laird and, Barry Dean, this song focuses on love being the center. Sure, we all like stuff but what is life without companionship? For everyone it may be something different, but a romantic connection trumps all.
Artists like Steve Moakler are part of a community that whisper in my ear that there is serious talent in Nashville. It’s the little victories of hearing a song of his on the radio that are important. This album will continue to give his name and talents wheels and we do our part by supporting artists like him. The steel industry may have seen it’s heyday, but let’s ensure country music hasn’t. Steel Town is a sure-footed step in the right direction.
Notable track include:
- Hearts Don’t Break That Way
- Just Long Enough
Just a Massachusetts guy supporting Texas and other independent country/Americana artists.
Check out my spotify for good tunes!