Martina McBride

Martina McBride

The country star breaks down her new album -- listen to it here FIRST -- and talks "vivacious" duet with Kelly Clarkson

Martina McBride's new album, "Everlasting," is all about memories. A collection of pop and R&B standards produced by Don Was, McBride says a perfect example of this is "Little Bit Of Rain," a song she grew up on from Linda Ronstadt. "I just think it's so pretty," she says. "A lot of these songs I chose because they have great melodies and lyrics. This song was just kind of short and sweet, and I love singing it."

"Everlasting" hits stores on Aprl 8. While it's not her first foray into covers territory – 2005's "Timeless" was one of her best-selling discs – she tells The 615 that she approached this set a little differently. 

"I was really faithful to the originals on 'Timeless' – maybe to a fault, looking back with some perspective. Those songs I had grown up with and were so sacred to me that I felt so reverent toward them, that I don't know I had the confidence to do my own thing with them. Where on this record, having grown as an artist, I felt that it was important to not recreate the song so faithfully that it was a karaoke record. I wanted to be reverent toward the original, but also have my own spin on it."

One song that McBride loved putting her own take on was the Diana Ross and the Supremes' classic "Come See About Me." Though she says, it wasn't on her original list. "It wasn't on our list to do. We were looking at this other song, but it popped up on iTunes, and we all just looked at each other and said ‘We should do that song.' It's really fun and will be familiar to a lot of people."

The singer recorded the album at her own Blackbird Studios in Nashville's Berry Hill district with her husband John engineering. "I love recording at Blackbird, and I love recording with John. He tracked this record in a very beautiful and organic way with a lot of vintage instruments. What you hear on the record was what we experienced. There's not a lot of processing, filtering, or changing of the sound. It's the way it went to tape. He does a great job at preserving the sound of the instruments." 

"Everlasting" also contains a pair of duets. Gavin DeGraw adds a soulful touch to "Bring It On Home To Me," and Kelly Clarkson guests on the up-tempo "In The Basement," a tune from the Etta James catalog,  one that she feels will take a few listeners by surprise.

"I wanted to do a song that was a little bit unexpected for us. I think people would expect the two of us to get together and do this big ballad, but I found this song, and thought it was so much fun. It fits her personality, and it has a lot of fun energy and is very vivacious. So, we recorded it together, and I think it turned out great. I wasn't super familiar with it, to be honest. I discovered it along the way. That's one of the great things about this record – I discovered a lot of music while listening to thousands of songs. That was a really great process for me too."

She told Billboard that a good song is a good song – regardless of genre. "I love to sing all kinds of music," she said. "That's what was so great about this record – being able to sing something a little bit different and to interpret these great songs."

The release of "Everlasting" kicks off a busy period for the songstress, as she is in the process of putting together a tour to promote the album.

"I am very much looking forward to taking this music out on tour," she says. "We're going to bring out a horn section and background singers, and we're going to build a whole show around this record. I'm still going to be doing some of my hits, and the basic theme of the show will be like a throwback show. I'm still doing a lot of research on how those shows were done and how we want to incorporate some old-school moves and lighting, and make the show feel more like an experience rather than me just interpreting the songs. 

Everlasting is McBride's debut release for her own label, Vinyl Recordings via Kobalt Label Services. She hinted that she might have another release out before years' end – a Christmas record. Her 1998 White Christmas album remains a country yuletide standard.