Steve Moakler has made quite a name for himself as a songwriter, but now he’s also paving the way as an artist. The Pittsburgh native has three albums under his belt, making this year’s Steel Town, his fourth, however he has said this record feels like his first. It is very personal through and through and quite possibly the most honest he has been as a singer-songwriter to date. While the front end of the record is identical to his 2016 self-titled EP, Steel Town and Moakler’s story would not be nearly complete without their inclusion.
The group of eleven songs, ten of which he wrote, opens with the title track and it really sets the stage for what to expect throughout: Stories of Moakler’s home and history. Sprinkled with in each song are tales of his hometown, his family, and his past. He’s said that this record is about looking at the past while also staying in the moment, and it feels very relatable and universal. Like any country album it has songs about love and songs about a good time (“Jealous”, “Love Drunk”), but it also features songs about change (“Wheels”).
Over all it has a light, feel-good vibe with an emotional undertone (“Long Enough”, “Summer Without Her”). From front to back it’s upbeat and sunny sounding. Moakler’s writing and vocal style is similar to the likes of Dierks Bentley, Billy Currington, Thomas Rhett (who had a hand in writing “Suitcase”), and Jake Owen (who Moakler has written several tracks for). Steel Town is in the same vain as the new breed of country music that has been all over the charts lately. It’s traditional country roots with a bit of a pop sheen. It may not be anything ground-breaking, but it’s still a good listen. That being said, there is something about Moakler that is uniquely his own. This record will remind you of his country colleagues, but there’s something you’ve never heard before that you just can’t quite put your finger on. Closing track “Gold” is definitely a stand out. “Wheels” and “Siddle’s Saloon” are also gems you won’t want to miss.
I can already feel Steel Town being this summer’s staple, so make sure you know the songs before the warm weather hits.
by Jennifer Boylen