Morgan Evans on Being So Far Away from His Family in Australia During Pandemic: 'It's Really Hard'

"They were tiny, tiny babies the last time I saw them," the country singer-songwriter says of his nieces and nephews

Morgan Evans has a smile that makes it seem as if he has not a care in the world. He's happily married, his career is soaring and he's prepping to get back on the road, which he thrives on.

But make no mistake — this Aussie has much on his mind.

"The last time I was in Australia was probably ... well, it's been more than two years ago now," Evans, 36, tells PEOPLE, his ever-present smile fading a bit as he reflects on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. "I just don't think they've got enough vaccines getting rolled out quick enough over there. It is hard. It's really hard."

Indeed, much has happened in those two years that the country hitmaker of songs such as "Kiss Somebody" and "Day Drunk" has missed.

"My brother and sister both have kids, and they were tiny, tiny babies the last time I saw them," says Evans, who was born and raised in Newcastle, New South Wales. "And now they have these incredible personalities, and they are enjoying music and discovering animals and doing all those things. You can sort of see it through a screen, but you're not there to truly experience it."

Morgan Evans
Morgan Evans. Patrick Tracy

But as Evans knows far too well, love always seems to prevail. And it is this message that runs through the lyrical backbone of his current, uplifting single "Love Is Real," his first release in nearly two years.

"I had loved that title for a while and I was kind of protective over it," he says with a chuckle of the song he wrote alongside Jordan Reynolds and Parker Welling towards the end of 2020. "I wanted to write this the right way and not be too 'inside baseball' in terms of the songwriting on it. With this song, we just wanted to capture that feeling of love as the main point of the song."

It's a feeling that he most certainly feels for his wife of nearly four years, fellow country star Kelsea Ballerini. But what he loves about her the most just might be surprising to some.

"It sounds cliché, but it really is the truth," says Evans, taking a moment to scroll through his camera roll to show off pics of his makeup-free wife looking more beautiful than ever. "I actually enjoy taking photos of her when she doesn't look like the Kelsea Ballerini you see on the red carpet or on Instagram or anything. I also love to get pics of her laughing. She's super funny. That's my favorite thing about her."

Of course, it's these photos along with a whole bunch of FaceTimes and texts that the couple will be hanging onto coming up, as both prepare to get back out on the road. While Ballerini is a special guest on the Jonas Brothers' tour, kicking off Friday night, Evans will hit the road with Brett Eldredge next month.

And this time around, Evans will be joined by a full band.

"I missed the camaraderie of it," says Evans, who had come to be known for his pre-pandemic, one-man show. "I remember when I was 13 years old and I wanted to play the guitar, but I didn't want to play by myself. I wanted to be in a band."

Morgan Evans
Morgan Evans. Patrick Tracy

So at the beginning of 2020, that was the plan.

"We had rehearsed for two months and had the whole show with the big screen and the lights and everything," Evans remembers. "And then, everything was canceled. So now getting to play out with my band is really exciting and nerve-wracking and wildly different, but I think it will allow me more space in my brain to just be in the moment and enjoy the moment."

And if he can't be in Australia, he loves being here in America.

"One of my favorite things is the pride that you guys have in this country," Evans admits. "The patriotism here is so inspiring to me. And I feel like maybe because of the pandemic and the political s— that went down last year — it really ripped a lot of families and friends apart. And seeing people together in these moments where everyone comes together, they don't care about any of that stuff, and they can just be together in the same place sharing the same moment ... to me that's really powerful."

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