"Falling in love during a pandemic can really serve as constant inspiration as a songwriter," the country-pop singer tells PEOPLE
levi hummon
Levi Hummon
| Credit: Alex Berger 

After a year that included a bevy of canceled tour dates and a grueling battle with COVID-19, Levi Hummon recently found the time to embark on a physical and mental detox — and he's never felt better.

"Everyone was celebrating the reopening of the world and I wanted to be fully present in that," the country-pop star, 29, tells PEOPLE of his mission to complete a 33-day no alcohol, clean eating detox last month. "I feel completely present in life right now. It's amazing what clean eating and taking away [alcohol] can do. Anxiety goes away and sleep comes back to normal. I've never felt healthier, or more creative, in my entire life. It feels like I am entering a whole new chapter."

It's a realization that stems from a number of important changes in the Tennessee native's life, most notably his relationship with 27-year-old fitness model Dallas Stephens.

"We met over the pandemic on a dating app," remembers Hummon. "She was planning to leave Los Angeles to move to Nashville and we just started hitting it off and she asked if she could come to visit … and she never left. We have now been living together for the past two months. It's a true pandemic love story."

In fact, on the couple's very first date, Hummon took Stephens to meet his parents, choosing to sit out by the family's pool and get to know each other.

"My mom loves Dallas more than, I think, me," laughs Hummon, whose mom Becca Stevens is best known for her work with her foundation Thistle Farms, which has worked to assist female survivors of trafficking, prostitution and addiction for the past 20 years. "Not everyone has a mom like I do. She is such a badass. When you have the full support of someone like my mother, then you are doing something right. And Dallas definitely does."

In fact, Hummon says the two ladies have a number of similarities.

"They are both very strong women," he explains. "I pride myself on surrounding myself with strong women. They lend a true light to my life."

Indeed, this light and this unrelenting love has done much to help Hummon through some challenging times as of late, including a battle late last year with COVID-19.

"I got it right after Thanksgiving," remember Hummon, who is set to play the Grand Ole Opry on April 30. "At that time, I completely lost my sense of taste and smell. It slowly started coming back though. I would get these headaches and then I would smell this weird, sour milk sort of smell. Right now, I would say I'm back to about 75% normal."

He adds with a laugh, "They say 'stop and smell the roses' and I literally do now. It's like, 'Ahhh, I missed you.'"

Fighting off COVID along with the physical and mental detox has not only left Hummon with a renewed vigor for life, but a creative resurgence that can be heard loud and clear in his music — most notably on the songs of his new EP 36/86 Side B.

"When Dallas and I started dating, we would stay up on FaceTime till 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. talking about life, and that's how the song 'Good Taste' came to be," remembers Hummon of the song he wrote alongside Jimmy Robbins and Eric Arjes. "It was the same with songs like 'Same Kind of Crazy' and 'Freaking Out.' She inspired it. Falling in love during a pandemic can really serve as constant inspiration as a songwriter."

And while Hummon now finds himself eagerly awaiting the day that he returns to the road to play his authentic brand of music, fans will certainly find themselves a refreshed and recharged man.

"This whole pandemic changed my life 1000 percent," reflects Hummon, who has shared the stage through the years with legendary country acts such as Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, and Lady A. "After going and going for seven years, I finally got the chance to slow down. I got a moment to renovate my house and fall in love and have a dog and spend more time with my family. I feel like I just entered chapter two of my life and my career. Many artists don't get to that next chapter, so I'm rejoicing in it."