'It was a continuous process of creating musical ideas,' says Yoakam of seven-year album gap.
Dwight Yoakam assures us that "there was no deliberate plan in taking this many years" -- seven, that is -- to release "3 Pears," his first set of new material since 2005's "Blame the Vain." But he says business concerns, "deciding where we were going to do it, who we were gonna do it with," led to some of the delay.
"3 Pears," which comes out Tuesday (Sept. 18), brings Yoakam back into the Warner Bros. fold, where he had his greatest success from 1986-2001, after one-album tenures each with New West Records ("Blame the Vain") and Audium/Koch (2003's "Population Me"). Moving his publishing to Warner-Chapell, meanwhile, led Yoakam to consider recording for the label again. "There were some shifts in the folks at Warners in Burbank, and we just waited and decided what we were going to do," he says. "It felt good to go back to Warners. Lenny Waronker actually executive-produced the record with me; he's back over there just having fun and consulting at Warners, so I would drive over to the Burbank office building and play the stuff in the car for Lenny and get input and ideas as we were progressing with the track."
The long interim between albums certainly gave Yoakam time to accumulate songs, mostly his own but also including a cover of the Flying Burrito Brothers-popularized "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (and Loud, Loud Music)."
"I'd been collecting music all along the way," says Yoakam, who did release the "Dwight Sings Buck" tribute to Buck Owens in 2007. "You just let the music kind of grab at you and go along with it. There are things that I thought I was going to do on this record that I didn't... but it was a continuous process of creating musical ideas from, really, the release of 'Blame the Vain' to now."
Two of "3 Pears' " tracks, "A Heart Like Mine" and "Missing Heart," were co-produced by Beck at his home studio in Malibu. "We had crossed paths over the years," Yoakam notes, "and I just had an inclination to reach out and say, 'Would you be interested in coming and hanging and listening to what I'm writing?' He came over to the office -- and none of the things I played him were the two we cut! But he was interested and reached out a couple more times after that, and...I think he gave me a bit of a schematic as to how I was going to approach the actual creating of the rest of the album."
Yoakam also collaborated with Kid Rock, who co-wrote the opening track "Take Hold of My Hand." "That had been laying around in my stack of unfinished songs for about 20 years," Yoakam recalls. "I had that chorus and told him what I was thinking, and he jumped on it and we pushed on forward and basically finished it in one evening. He drove the remaining laps with me."
Yoakam has live dates booked in the U.S. and Australia into December, and he has "another eight or nine unfinished songs" that he worked on for "3 Pears." And he wants to avoid another seven-year gap between releases. "It was fun to do this, so I'm thinking about already going back in or continuing, not stopping," he says. "It all depends, but I can't imagine waiting that long again."