"Fun" is the operative word Uncle Kracker uses to describe his fourth album, "Happy Hour," due in February or March via Atlantic. "We just kinda went in and had fun -- fun in every way, shape or form,

"Fun" is the operative word Uncle Kracker uses to describe his fourth album, "Happy Hour," due in February or March via Atlantic. "We just kinda went in and had fun -- fun in every way, shape or form," says the Detroit singer and songwriter (real name Matt Shafer), who recorded the album with producer and co-writer Michael Bradford throughout the summer, mostly during breaks from touring as a featured guest with country superstar Kenny Chesney.

"I've had some pretty ballady stuff on the last couple [albums]," Kracker adds. "So we just went in and had fun and made a great, fun pop record."

"Happy Hour" -- Kracker's first album since 2004's "Seventy Two & Sunny" -- was written entirely by the artist and Bradford and recorded at the Sound Kitchen in Nashville. It features two notable guests -- Leo Sayer on the title track and Boyz II Men on a song called "The One That Got Away."

"The Leo Sayer track is slammin'," Kracker says, noting that Bradford had to fly to London to record the "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" hitmaker's vocal. "It sounds like some old disco [song], like 'Love Boat' meets Chic or something like that."

The Boyz II Men track, meanwhile, came about after Kracker and the group recorded a new version of "Follow Me," "not for the album, just to have fun with." "The One That Got Away," he says, "sounds like some old Jackson 5. It's kind of like a modern throwback record, really, which was kind of fun to dig into."

Kracker acknowledges that he took a little longer between albums this time out, simply due to his own malaise. "I put out ['Seventy Two & Sunny'] and did the usual tour for a year," he says. "When it came time to do the [new] record, I didn't feel like doing a record, so I didn't do one. Then a year went by, and the record label's like, 'You really got to start a new record now.'"

Kracker is now preparing for his annual Thanksgiving night concert in his home town of Mt. Clemens, Mich.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print