NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tim McGraw has his music hat on again.
After more than a year of appearances without his signature black cowboy hat while promoting movies "The Blind Side" and "Country Strong," McGraw is back to focusing on music for a while. He has recorded a new album, launched his own SiriusXM channel, "Tim McGraw Radio," on Wednesday, and just kicked off his "Emotional Traffic" tour, which will include a special Sirius concert next week in New York City.
"It's sort of like a cape," he said in a recent interview of wearing a cowboy hat. "I just don't feel the same without it when I'm talking about music. It just sort of goes hand in hand."
He'll need whatever superpower the hat might give him as he faces one last showdown with his label, Curb Records. McGraw said his upcoming "Emotional Traffic" album would be his "absolute last album" with Curb if it kills him, and even though he finished the album in the fall, there is still no release date.
"All the songs have been done for a long time, and the label has had it. It's the last album that they have of mine, so they're trying to hold on to it as long as they can," he said. "Whenever Mike Curb decides he's going to play fair, it will be out."
No one from Curb Records, including label chief Mike Curb, was immediately available for comment when contacted by The Associated Press.
McGraw and his label of nearly 20 years have been publicly at odds for years now. McGraw claims the label is dragging out his contract and depriving his fans of new music by releasing hits albums in between each of his last three studio albums. He issued an apology to fans in 2008 when the label released "Greatest Hits 3," saying, "It has to be just as confusing to the fans as it is to me."
The label put out another compilation in November, "Number One Hits," with one new song from the upcoming studio album, "Felt Good On My Lips." It became a multi-week No. 1.
McGraw said the SiriusXM channel will include all his hits dating back to 1994's "Indian Outlaw" as well as songs he's forgotten he even recorded. He also picked his favorite tunes by other artists that will be sprinkled into the mix. Fans will also be treated to his laid-back charm and self-deprecating humor through the stories he recently recorded in Nashville to introduce the songs
The channel will air multiple live concerts from various cities of McGraw's "Emotional Traffic" tour, and fans will be able to hear five songs from the new album as part of his nightly set list.
McGraw said the songs on the new album feel "fresh and cool." There is a duet with Ne-Yo, and his wife, Faith Hill, makes an appearance. Instead of using his touring band, the Dancehall Doctors, to record the album like he has for the past few, McGraw wanted to change up the sound by using studio musicians, including a couple of guys from Paul McCartney's band.
As for upcoming movie roles, McGraw recently had to pull out of the Denzel Washington film "Safe House" because of scheduling conflicts. He's currently mulling other offers, including a zombie movie.
McGraw's "Emotional Traffic" tour runs through August and features openers The Band Perry and Luke Bryan. He is also playing a special show at New York City's Beacon Theatre on April 27, which will air live on three SiriusXM channels: Tim McGraw Radio, The Highway and Prime Country.