Music fans already know Mac Powell from his years of fronting the Grammy-winning rock band Third Day — one of the most successful contemporary Christian rock bands in the genre. But his new direction might be a bit of a surprise; the singer-songwriter recently released his first country album, and he’s touring this fall to support it.

Country music is nothing new to Powell, as he recently told Billboard magazine. “I grew up listening to country music,” he explains. “It was a big part of shaping me musically and I think that’s pretty evident in Third Day music. There’s always been little tinge of it.”

The songs for his self-titled solo album have been percolating for a long time. “There have been so many times in the past that I had song ideas that didn’t really fit lyrically or musically with Third Day,” Powell wrote on his personal Tumblr site, announcing the project. “I filed those songs away to the ‘maybe sometime’ category. Well, that time is now.”

Powell worked with producer Jason Hoard and acclaimed Nashville songwriter Brett James (‘Jesus Take the Wheel’) on the project, which he released on August 21. The album’s first single is ‘June Bug,’ and Powell embarked on a tour on Sept. 14 which will run through Nov. 4 before wrapping up in Orlando. While Third Day performs in front of huge crowds, Powell’s current tour will take him to smaller club venues.

“It’s different to think about getting in a van with a trailer and driving five to eight hours a night,” Powell told USA Today. “It’s something I never thought I would do again, but when you’re driven to get this music out, you’ll do it.”

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