Brian McKnight is readying a new album for release in early 2013 -- and is somewhat surprised to be doing so.
"I hadn't really planned on making another one," McKnight tells Billboard about the tentatively titled "Words." But he says E1, which put out 2011's "Just Me," "gave me a call and said, 'So, do you want to release another album?' A lot of times it comes down to economics. They were willing to pay for it, so I decided to do it. I'm always going to be writing songs, whether I'm making an album or not. Once I decided to do another CD, man, they were coming four a day, five a day."
McKnight says he worked on nearly 40 songs for the set, co-writing the planned title track with Colbie Caillat.
"We were on a plane together, and I didn't realize who she was 'cause I don't know anybody's face," he recalls. "We started talking, then she came by my house and we wrote this really great tune."
Just finished writing with @ colbiecaillat the title track of my new cd called words gonna record it tonight !!!!
- Brian McKnight (@ItsBMcKnight) October 24, 2012
He adds that the album is stylistically "all across the board, no musical theme" though he concedes that he "wrote a couple of typical Brian McKnight songs as insurance records."
"I kinda went back to that period between '88 and '94 where I felt like I was the most creative, without being hindered by powers that be," McKnight explains. "I was no longer going to try to hinder myself to what I thought was going to be on the radio. I went back and listened to the first three albums I made and tried to figure out what was special about them, why people keep going back to them. I think it was because I didn't know what I was doing. I had no idea if they were going to play it on the radio or anything. All I did was write songs, so that's what I got back to."
McKnight hopes to release the album's first single this month but says he's "torn" about which track to go with, He plans to give E1 three choices and let the label decide. One tune that won't be on the album, however, is "If You're Ready to Learn," a comically lewd track he leaked virally in April but that was widely misunderstood at the time.
"Other people take me more seriously than I take myself," McKnight explains. "I had gotten to this point where I felt like, 'Is that what people want to listen to?' That's what I was hearing in the clubs, so I did it as a parody, as me being funny. I think it's one of the cleverest songs I've written. Yeah, my music has been clean, but if anyone thought I was just this nice boy who'd never been with a woman or did anything, they're idiots."