Don't tell Tracy Lawrence that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. The singer is gearing up for the release of a new album, and after a 20-year career, he says his new material is an artistic stretch for him, describing the production as "edgier" than past efforts.

Lawrence is getting ready to go for radio adds on his new single 'Stop Drop and Roll,' with an eye toward releasing his new album, titled 'Headlights, Taillights and Radios,' in August. At the recent Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, the veteran entertainer told Taste of Country he's excited about the project, for which he deliberately employed some new elements and a fresh approach.

"I would have loved to do productions like this back in the early '90s," Lawrence says. "I remember a song I did called 'If the Good Die Young' -- I wanted to have a lead guitar solo on there, and the label flipped out! It was too rock and roll. They made us go back and put fiddle on the solo. And now everything is so guitar-heavy. We were trying to do some of that stuff back then, but the powers that be wouldn't allow it to happen."

That's not to say that Lawrence's new record is going to sound like Motley Crue, but the musician did employ some different players for the project, and he also chose to sing in some keys that mark a departure from his norm. "I really wanted to grow," he relates. "I wanted to push myself into some keys that I wasn't totally comfortable in, to push myself to sing a little more aggressive at times. I wanted to leave there feeling like I pushed myself to go above and beyond my comfort zone."

Lawrence also worked with a young engineer on the project, and he was so serious about getting contemporary-sounding tracks that he even spent time with some of his friends in radio, comparing his new mixes to current singles from other artists. "It's a different day and age than it was when I started making records 20 years ago," he acknowledges. "Sonically, I wanted the record to be able to compete."

Still, he's not trying to wholly re-invent himself. Lawrence says he just wants to move forward creatively. "That's what an artist is supposed to be," he explains. "You're supposed to be an individual person. You're supposed to make your own music. I'm glad to feel our industry getting back to that place."

The former legendary hell-raiser is now a settled family man, and he conveys a hard-earned sense of wisdom when he talks about his current approach to his life and career. "I'm like an old turtle these days," Lawrence jokes. "I don't run wide-open everywhere, but at the end of the day, I'll be where I'm supposed to be."

More From KIXS FM 108