Mariah Carey
Dennis Leupold
August 27, 2018 09:00 AM

Mariah Carey has a new hit residency in Las Vegas and is gearing up for the release of her upcoming album.

“I’ve been working on my new album for a while. This is a labor of love and I’m really excited,” the superstar — who is extending her “The Butterfly Returns” residency at Caesars Palace into 2019 with new dates in February — tells PEOPLE exclusively. “This is me at this moment in my life being able to express myself as a writer and a singer. I’m just really in a good place.”

While her album will feel “current,” the singer insists she’s not trying to follow “anybody else’s trends.”

“My fans just want to hear me express myself and speak from the heart and sing from the heart,” says Carey, who will be performing her first leg of the residency through Sept. 10. “Some of the record is lighthearted and fun, and some [songs] I really went deep in terms of the lyrical content. There’s a nice cross-section of things.”

Mariah Carey
Denise Truscello/Courtesy of Caesars Palace
Mariah Carey
Denise Truscello/Courtesy of Caesars Palace

And when she returns to the Vegas stage in February, Carey is also looking forward to changing up her set list again.

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“I’ve been loving it so much,” she says about her show. “A lot of the fans who have come out to see it were really happy having a little more diversity. I want to make it really impromptu and surprise the people who have come out again and again to see the show.”

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The Grammy winner is also keeping busy this summer with her 7-year-old twins Moroccan and Monroe.

“Every time I get a minute off, we go somewhere and try to do something fun,” she says. “We’re New Yorkers, but I’ve been living out in L.A. with the kids for a while so they can go outside and play in the yard and go in the pool.”

Her kids — with ex-husband Nick Cannon — are also growing up quickly and developing unique personalities.

Mariah Carey, Moroccan and Monroe
Mariah Carey/Instagram

“They love each other and are best friends, but [now] they’ll do things without each other,” she says. “For the most part they’re with each other all the time. I just hope they maintain that for the rest of their lives. There’s nothing like the bond that they share.”

Adds the star: “They light up my life and are amazing.”

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