Tim McGraw’s new album, ‘Emotional Traffic,’ set for Jan. 24 release

Tim McGraw”s last album for Curb Records will come out Jan. 24.

“Emotional Traffic,” co-produced by McGraw and his longtime producer Byron Gallimore includes “Felt Good On My Lips,” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard”s Hot Country Songs chart in 2011, as well as current single, “Better Than I Used to Be.”

The set also features a duet with Ne-Yo on “Only Human.” McGraw is no stranger to blending genres: he and Nelly collaborated on “Over and Over” in 2004.  The album also has a song co-written by McGraw and Martina McBride.

The release most likely brings a close to McGraw”s contentious 20-year tenure on Curb that ended up in court last year. McGraw finished recording “Emotional Traffic” more than a year ago, even launching the “Emotional Traffic” tour early last year in anticipation of putting out the album. However, Curb felt it was too soon to release another studio album following October 2009″s “Southern Voice.”

McGraw told me during the December 2010 press tour for the movie “Country Strong,” that he was ready to move on. “Twenty years with any label, I think, is too much, so unless you”re really having a great relationship…I think it”s a good time for me to go out and see what”s out there…When a relationship doesn”t work mutually, then I think you have to evaluate it on both sides. I could turn to Prince really quickly if I go down that road.” (Prince was so beleaguered by his contractual obligations to Warner Bros., that he wrote “slave” on his cheek).

As often happens, things got ugly. Last May, Curb filed suit for breach of contract against McGraw, alleging that he has delivered the album too early in a “transparent tactic” to get out of his contract, which stipulated that each new album be recorded within a certain time period, and no earlier, following his previous album. McGraw countersued and in November, a court denied Curb”s request to keep McGraw from recording for another label while the original lawsuit continues.

However, it”s not a clean break yet. Curb and McGraw will go back to court in July to determine if McGraw did, indeed, breach his contract. In the meantime, he is free to record for labels other than Curb. To celebrate, a week after the court”s decision, McGraw released a holiday track, “Christmas All Over the World,” via his own label, StyleSonic.

It”s already shaping up as a busy year for the singer/actor, who will tour Australia with wife, Faith Hill, in March. McGraw and Kenny Chesney will perform together this summer on the Brothers of the Sun stadium outing.

Check out our gallery of other highly-anticipated albums of 2012.

“Emotional Traffic” track listing:

1.       Halo
2.       Right Back Actha Babe
3.       One Part, Two Part
4.       I Will Not Fall Down
5.       The One
6.       Better Than I Used To Be
7.       Touchdown Jesus
8.       The One That Got Away
9.       Felt Good On My Lips?
10.     Hey Now
11.     Only Human
12.     Die By My Own Hand

Follow Melinda Newman on Twitter @HitfixMelinda