Call Kelly Clarkson's next record Breaking Away Even More.
"Like how Breakaway was different, 10 steps away from Thankful, this one is more that way," the singer said last week (see "Kelly Clarkson Airs New Song In Commercial, Will Play More On Tour"). "It's more rock, more soulful, there's a lot that has a bit more of a singer/songwriter kind of vibe. It's an eclectic bunch of songs that are me."
With the singer/songwriter side, fans can expect something similar to when Clarkson covered Ray LaMontagne's "Shelter" on the "ReAct Now: Music & Relief" Hurricane Katrina telethon last fall (see "Reznor, Kanye, Green Day Reflect On Disaster, Inspire Relief For MTV Special").
"The funny thing is nobody really knows that side of me," Clarkson said. "Patty Griffin is my favorite person on the planet and she's a total singer/songwriter like Bob Dylan. She's amazing and people don't get to hear a lot of that on the radio, and it's such a sad thing. Everything doesn't have to sound like bubblegum ear candy. I mean, I love bubblegum ear candy, but it's great to have a break from that. ... [Griffin and LaMontagne] have got voices where they can break somebody's heart — but in a good way. And that's what I want to capture on the next album."
Since Breakaway was released in fall 2004, Clarkson's been touring nearly nonstop to promote the smash LP. But she's also been accumulating songs along the way. In fact, she wrote two songs on her recent vacation that she expects to make the new, yet-untitled record.
"I'm always writing," she said. "I never really pick a time. They have these things in the music industry, it's really weird, they're writing camps. They set up a time to write with people, like you're supposed to schedule when you're gonna be inspired. I don't write like that. People that can, more power to you. I write every day, if something happens."
And, obviously, a lot has happened over Clarkson's transformation from "American Idol" to worldwide superstar.
"I love the ideas of the new songs," she said. "I noticed with [Breakaway] that people really like when it's not just a song, it's about something in particular. It's about things I love or dislike, crap relationships and great relationships. And then there's just fun songs. One of my favorites is called 'Yeah' and it's just a fun tour song. And since I tour a lot, I think there needs to be some of those."
Speaking of touring, Clarkson plans to record the new material with her band while on the road this summer (see "It's Your Turn To Scream 'Kelly Clarkson!' This Summer"). And she's bringing producer David Kahne (the Strokes, the Bangles) along to oversee the endeavor.
"So this record is going to be different, it's not really how a pop star would make an album, it's more like how a band would make an album," Clarkson said. "We're trying something new because I seem to work better that way. I'm so excited about the album, you have no idea. I already have the video concepts!"
Clarkson might branch out and work with other producers, but she wants to get "the meat" done with Kahne.
"He's ridiculous," she said. "He's like me in the sense that he doesn't work on projects for the money — obviously, because he does a lot of indie bands. He does the projects because he's passionate about it. When he heard my vision for the next record, he loved it and was so on board with it. He's never really worked with someone as pop as me, so it'll be different. And he's very much the technical guy. He starts throwing out phrases and I'm like, 'Wow, am I even in music?' But I feel it. I'm more the passionate person. I don't know what I'm doing, but I just do it."
If she does look to others, Will.I.Am is still at the top of her wish list (see "Kelly Clarkson Eyeing Black Eyed Peas For New Album").
"Will is just a brainiac and he likes to do new and inventive things, and I'd love to [collaborate], even if it's not on my record," she said. "If I come up with something and I hear someone else in my head or think it could be a cool duet or if someone sends me a song, I'm totally down. But for right now, we're focusing."