Now that he has "a little bit more control over my career" thanks to his own label, Stringtown Records, John Michael Montgomery is eyeing a covers album for his next project.
The country music star -- who's sold more than 10 million albums and scored 15 No. 1 singles, including "I Swear" -- tells Billboard.com that he's working with Time Life on a tribute to the country Outlaw movement of the '70s and early '80s. "I'm looking at going in and cutting an album of my favorite Outlaw hits from back in the day," says Montgomery, who first worked with Time Life on an infommercial for the company's "Country Explosion" series. "That's the music I cut my teeth on -- Hank (Williams) Jr., Willie (Nelson), Waylon (Jennings).
"I want to bring back what I feel was one of the greatest eras of music. Not only was Southern rock huge, but the country music scene was really rockin', too. So I'm excited about doing that. It gives me a chance to go back in time and sing some of the songs I grew up singing."
Montgomery says he'll probably record the album in the late summer or early fall and adds that he might reach out to Nelson or others "to come in and sing a little duo on one or two" songs.
Meanwhile, Montgomery is continuing to promote 2008's "Time Flies," his 10th studio album and first on Stringtown. The album, his first in four years, has yielded his first country Top 30 hit since 2004 with "Forever." Montgomery says he's now starting to think about what his next single will be.
"('Forever') helped knock down some barriers out there, so now the challenge is picking the second single and find the right time to come out with it," Montgomery explains. "Right now it's summertime and everybody's doing pretty much uptempo stuff, and I don't know if I have an uptempo (track) on my album that I can put out right now. So it's more than likely we'll come out with a ballad next but wait 'til later in the summer -- although I have the flexibility now that if all of a sudden I hear something or write something I think could be (a hit), I can cut it real quick and release it and add it to the album without all the red tape I had before."