As Randy Jackson would say, Kelly Clarkson can sing the phone book — and she’ll be flaunting that impressive range on her next album.
And while the Grammy-winning pop star has plans to do a country album, her next record likely won’t be a twangy one.
“It’s definitely not like the pop-rock anthems people are used to, but they’re different kind of anthems. They’re still [about] empowerment and big, huge songs, but they’re delivered in a different way,” the singer told PEOPLE last week at a Good Housekeeping luncheon celebrating her new children’s book River Rose and the Magical Lullaby. “It’s just more soulful — like R&B-soul-urban-pop. It encompasses a lot. I just get to really sing on it.”
The American Idol‘s shift in genre comes after her June announcement that she had left her record label of 14 years, RCA, and signed a deal with the urban-leaning label Atlantic.
Clarkson, 34, adds the new label and new tunes — expected next year — will suit her voice and style more.
“It’s a better suit for my personality,” says the singer, who is already working on the new LP, which will be her eighth following 2015’s Piece by Piece. “It’s a record I’ve been dying to make since I was a kid. Now’s the time.”
The star says she has been teaming up with former collaborators, including hitmaker Greg Kurstin — who wrote and produced hits off her Stronger and Piece by Piece albums — and Jesse Shatkin, who helped helm her 2013 holiday album Wrapped in Red. But she’s also working with new collaborators as well.
“I’ve never made a record like this. Because we’re changing gears, we’ve been talking to a lot of writers. I just came from L.A. and met a ton of writers to be like, ‘Hey, just in case you want to know where we’re going with this album — do not send, like, ‘Stronger 2.0,’ you know?” says Clarkson. “We played them stuff and talked about where the album’s going. It’s a new, fresh thing for me.”
As for what the new album will sound like? Check out Clarkson’s live cover of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind,” available for free on her new site kellyclarksonlive.com.