Joe NicholsJoe Nichols has a lot on his agenda in the next few months, including his upcoming gig as the lead actor in the Broadway remake of 'Pure Country,' the release of a new album and a special performance for the Dalai Lama. But it's his recent experience in Iraq that is weighing heavy on his mind right now.

"We got a first hand look at what the soldiers do day in and day out and at what they have to go through," Joe tells The 9513. "Just the pressure that's on them to perform their daily duties. The overall physical demand that Iraq has is pretty amazing. It's 130 degrees, and the soldiers are carrying about 100 pounds of extra gear. It's a pretty rigorous schedule and routine for them."

One emotional memory in particular stands out for the singer, thanks to a story shared by a Marine. "He was talking about the show we did one night at Camp Awasad. And he was part of the transportation the next day to another base. While we were getting off the helicopter, he started talking about the show and he said, 'When you played 'I'll Wait For You,' I couldn't help but think about the last dance I had with my wife back at home. We danced to that song,' he said. 'I bawled in front of all my men, and they were watching. It was one of the moments I just couldn't control.'"

Joe himself has gotten his life back in control, after tackling his alcohol addiction. He says his newfound personal happiness has helped him realize the joy of his professional life, as well. "The passion for doing music, the passion that I have for going out and playing it live -- my love for country music is back. I lost it a little bit, I think," he admits. "But upon the completion of this album, I think that passion's back ... When you find great songs, and somehow you get a spark in a little way, it can become brand new. That's what this album's done for me."

Joe's new album, 'Old Things New,' is set for release on Oct. 27.