"I cannot stress enough that I took everything we've ever done and put it to the side and started over," the country star tells PEOPLE
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Between a packed tour and finishing his next album, Chris Young knows he won’t have a relaxing summer. And the country star doesn’t mind.

“My schedule is pretty dang full in the summer,” the “Losing Sleep” singer, 33, told PEOPLE on Thursday after announcing at a USAA’s Salute to Service NFL Draft event in Nashville that USAA will sponsor his Raised on Country tour. “I’m in one of those amazingly exciting creative phases of my life, and being able to kick off a new tour with that, I couldn’t ask for anything else.”

He’ll launch his set of U.S. dates on May 16, and before that, Young hopes to put the finishing touches on his new record.

“I’m done singing,” the musician reveals of his progress. “We’re doing the final couple mix things. My plan is to have it in mastering before we fly out to Europe at the top of next month for shows. It’s like cramming for finals.”

Young knows he’s been teasing fans on social media with hints of more music following the January release of his single “Raised on Country.”

“I’ve definitely seen that in the comments section,” Young says, assuring, “There’s so much stuff that’s coming everybody’s way. There’s a couple moments on the record that I think are going to surprise people. There’s one kind of throwback song. It’s a cover. It’s different. And it’s got some guests on it.”

A guest recently took Young’s spot on one of his songs when Cassadee Pope replaced him with her boyfriend Sam Palladio for a version of their Grammy-nominated hit “Think of You.” “I saw that post the other day from Cass and I went over and liked it,” Young says. “I think they ought to put a version out of it themselves!”

Chris Young
Chris Young
| Credit: John Shearer

As for Young’s new music, fans who come see the Tennessee native on tour in the next few months will get a preview of his upcoming eighth album.

“I cannot stress enough that I took everything we’ve ever done and put it to the side and started over,” he says. “I’ve changed song orders around and added songs that are going to be on the new record that no one has heard yet. We literally started from scratch and were like, let’s make the coolest show I can possibly make.”

Partnering with USAA — a leading provider of insurance, banking and other financial services to members of the U.S. military and their families — also offers Young a chance to express his gratitude.

“It gives me a wonderful outlet to say thank you,” says Young, whose grandfather, sister and brother-in-law served in the military.

Chris Young
Young performing at USAA’s NFL Draft Salute to Service event on April 25 in Nashville.
| Credit: Wade Payne/Invision for USAA/AP

And Young will bring an important member of his family on tour with him: his German Shepherd, Porter.

“I’ve got my dog at all the tour stops for sure,” the two-time Grammy nominee says. “Unless I fly, he’s with me. He’s got the same kennel that I’ve got in my house on the bus so he’s back there next to me at all times.”

Young remains tight-lipped about any other companions in his life though, as he made a decision early on in his career to keep his personal life under wraps. But that doesn’t stop him from singing about romance and heartbreak.

“I know it drives people nuts,” Young says of his secrecy, “but that was a conscious decision I made several years ago. I tell people when I’ve been dating somebody before, but I also do like to keep my private life private. Anytime there’s a really good breakup, I’m like, well, she broke my heart. It’s time to go write an album!”