David Nail has come back around with new music.
After the chart-topping singer-songwriter left the comfort of his longtime record label, he teamed up with sound engineer Andrew Petroff and producer Jason Hall to work on new music, eventually forming the Well Ravens and creating the band’s rock-tinged upcoming album, Only This and Nothing More.
“When I left Universal, it took me some time to figure out what I wanted the next step to be. I think subconsciously I just kind of leaned on them and said, ‘Hey, I don’t know what in the hell I’m going to do next. I don’t know if I’m going to do anything, but I think we should get together and drink some beer and just make some music. If it’s totally whack, then it is what it is. We should go into it with no expectations, but at the same time don’t shy away from something good if something good comes of it,” Nail previously told Rolling Stone.
According to Nail, the group’s latest single required a lot of hard work to uncover the right sound.
“‘Come Back Around’ was one of the songs we started, and then sorta felt like we had established a consistency to what we were doing from session to session,” the Grammy-nominated musician, 39, tells PEOPLE exclusively. “We ended up more or less rebuilding it from the ground up months later, but initially, I think we all knew the melody was pretty solid, and the potential was endless.”
The chorus, which encompasses his country storytelling talent and indie rock instrumentation, provides a lingering chorus that repeats, “I don’t mean to keep going round and round/ I’m still holding on thinking you’ll come back around.”
The trio combined their melodic chops with atmospheric rock and roll guitars, lush keyboards, drum loops and rule-breaking arrangements for the record.
“It was great to watch David explore these new sounds without having to worry about the boundaries and limitations of multiple different people telling him what to do,” says Hall, who pushed the singer’s melodies in a string of spontaneous takes.
“There were no rules during the songwriting and recording,” adds Petroff. “We just aimed for whatever felt right in the moment. Every day, we’d start from zero. We’d jam together over a drum loop or a weird synth sound or a guitar effect, and that would inspire David to come up with new melodies. We’d follow the spirit of the song, wherever it led.”
Previously, Nail has spoken about how his real life was far more painful than his song lyrics.
“I lived probably 10 years in a really, really deep depression,” the Kennett, Missouri, native told PEOPLE in 2014. “Growing up in a small town, it was one of those things that you don’t talk about and you try to sweep it under the rug.”
Newly married when his song “Let It Rain” hit No. 1 (he wed wife Catherine in 2009), Nail appeared to be living his dream. But, he says, “I carried around a lot of guilt because I had all these blessings in my life and yet I was still struggling to try to find some joy. I’d be first to admit that I wasn’t always the easiest guy to be around.”
With the help of therapy and prescription drugs, Nail has embraced his new reality, even writing about it on “In My Head,” a track on his upcoming album.
“In My Head’ is a conversation I’ve had with my wife probably a thousand times … That was one of the biggest things that helped me was realizing I was just born this way. It’s the way my brain is and it wasn’t anything that I was doing. It wasn’t anything that happened, and there was nobody to blame. It’s just who I am,” he told Rolling Stone recently. “I remember telling my wife, ‘I understand, and if you don’t want to be a part of this journey, I completely understand, but this is how I’m going to be. There are going to be ups and downs. There is no cure. You can read all the books in the world, but no one wrote the book on me yet.'”
In 2015, Nail became a father to twins when Catherine delivered son Lawson Brent and daughter Lillian Catherine.
“People used to tell me all the time, ‘Hey, when you actually have kids, you’re gonna realize how truly significant family is,’ and I think … you get that it makes sense, but there’s nothing that can prepare you for when you see your kids,” Nail said about fatherhood.
The musician has found inspiration from his family adding, “There’s no guarantee my kids will ever think anything I’ve done is cool, [but] there’s a few songs I’ve written about their mother or about them … they’ll appreciate from the standpoint that it came from the heart.”
Only This and Nothing More will be released Sept. 14.