Uncle Kracker gets "greasy and fun" on his fifth studio album, "Postcards From Home," which he plans to release in early 2012 after putting out a first single this fall.
"I don't know how to describe it, to be honest with you," he tells Billboard.com, adding with a laugh that, "I hate the word 'Americana,' so I won't use it. I don't even know what Americana is, exactly. I can't say this is a country record, but I can't say it's a pop record, either. The last record (2009's 'Happy Hour') I could tell you was a pop/rock record. This one is just... fun. Put it in the Super Fun section."
There are, of course, many who expected the singer's next album to be more tilted to the country market after the crossover success of "Happy Hour's" platinum single "Smile," which was a Top 10 country hit (and covered in concert this year by Taylor Swift) as well as Top 5 at Adult Contemporary and Adult Top 40. But even though he recorded "Postcards From Home" in Nashville with producer Keith Stegall (Alan Jackson, George Jones, Zac Brown Band), Uncle Kracker says he didn't feel comfortable with the idea of a full-fledged country project.
"Everybody was like, ' 'Smile' crossed over big in country, now are gonna make a country record?' I felt like if I said, 'Yeah, I am' and I handed a record in, everybody was gonna go, 'That's not a country record,' " Uncle Kracker explains. "I felt like you're almost damned if you do. So I'd rather make a record I like and turn it in and let everybody say, 'That sounds like country.' Once you tell 'em it's country, they'll be like, 'That ain't country!'
Uncle Kracker adds that he'd "love to make a full-on country record, to be honest with you. But I think it would be weird if it's, 'Here's Uncle Kracker's new record' and you pop it on and all of a sudden it's like, (sings) 'Where can a man get a drink in this town...' It'd be cheap."
Uncle Kracker recorded "Postcards From Home" in a seven-week blast earlier this year, before he began his touring run with Kenny Chesney in mid-March. He wrote songs with Shane McAnally, JT Harding and Chris Tompkins, while Stegall imported Muscle Shoals musicians such as Barry Beckett's son Mark and keyboardist Randy McCormick. The choice for first single, according to Uncle Kracker, is between the songs "Saturday Night" and "My Home Town."
"Postcard From Home's" title, meanwhile, was inspired by the Michigan artist's hectic life on the road after "Happy Hour." "It feels like I haven't been home in a couple of years," he explains. "If I go home for three days or something, that's a lot. This is probably the busiest couple of years I've had in 10 years. And I didn't write any of these songs at home, either. So being gone, it was like having a different home. I just like the little play on words."
Uncle Kracker is out with the Chesney tour until Aug. 28. He has a few dates booked for September and October and expects to hit the road again once the new album's first single is out.