"I feel like I've been pregnant for eighteen months!" Aguilera says of how long it has taken her to finish her latest effort, Back to Basics, due this June. Aguilera sees the follow-up to 2002's Stripped as a modern update of the vintage jazz, pop and R&B she loved as a kid -- artists from Billie Holiday to Otis Redding.
Working at Chalice studios in Los Angeles with beatmakers including DJ Premier and Mark Ronson, she went for a "throwback style using horn samples so it sounds gritty and old," she says. "But we've been able to splice it into something that people can still dance to in the clubs." Aguilera also teamed up again with Linda Perry, her collaborator on Stripped. "We dove headfirst into a Twenties and Thirties-era vibe," Aguilera says. "We have a song that sounds like you walked into a 1920s burlesque club."
On one yet-to-be-titled track, Aguilera sings about losing a loved one on top of layered strings a la "Eleanor Rigby." Other tracks include an Andrews Sisters sendup called "Candy Man" and a ballad dedicated to her new husband (Jordan Bratman, whom she married last November) titled "Save Me From Myself." Aguilera is considering releasing the album as a double disc, though no concrete decisions have been made.
"There's a lot of stuff that people haven't heard from me before," she says. "On one song, I'm just right above the mike. There's no reverb. There's no effects. There's no belting at all -- nothing."