Russell Hitchcock may be one of the most recognized pop-rock vocalists of our time. This year, the singer celebrates 35 years of being involved in the music business as one-half of rock duo Air Supply. In honor of the special anniversary, Hitchcock has released new music, but it's a step away from what his fans are used to hearing from the AC/soft rock icon.

Last week, the Australian singer released 'Russell Hitchcock - Tennessee: The Nashville Sessions.' The double-album contains 20 new songs, all penned and recorded by Nashville's finest songwriters and musicians. The inspiration for doing the country album came from the suggestion of record producer great Rob Rappaport.

"Rob and I met through social circles," Hitchcock tells Taste of Country. "We were having lunch in Los Angeles with a bunch of people one day, and he quite casually asked how I would feel about recording a project in Nashville. I had no hesitation. I'd been in Nashville several times with Air Supply to do shows. I've always been fascinated with the town and obviously you can't get away from music any second of the day there. I've always liked different types of music, but I've always been a country music fan, as well."

Hitchcock wasted no time looking for songs to record for the album, going through hundreds of tunes in the process. "We just paired them all down to the final batch that we really loved," Hitchcock says. "I think we recorded maybe 23 or 24 songs, and we released 20 on the two CDs."

The first release from 'The Nashville Sessions' album is the tender ballad, 'Far Enough Away From Colorado.' The single hit country radio airwaves earlier this month and is already a fan favorite off the album. "I think it's probably the most country song on the project," notes Hitchcock. "It's a beautiful song. It has a great melody, great lyrics and a great story, which is the most important thing when it comes to music, especially country music."

While Hitchcock is no stranger to time spent in the recording studio, the singer says this go around was a completely different experience in comparison to recording with Air Supply.

"The first couple days of singing was especially hard," he admits. "I wasn't as comfortable as I thought I should be. In fact, we re-did vocals on a couple of the songs. It was a totally different environment for me. It was the first time I'd been in the studio really in over twenty years without being next to [my Air Supply partner] Graham Russell and recording our material with people I was familiar with."

"I was alone in a way," he continues. "So until I got in the mindset that I was capable of doing it, I was apprehensive. I certainly hadn't done anything like this before, and I want to be as good as I can be as a singer. I want people to believe what I'm singing when they hear me sing any song, but this [project] was particularly important to me."

Hitchcock, 61, still tours heavily with Air Supply, but is hoping to squeeze in a few dates this fall to perform solo shows in support of 'The Nashville Sessions.' In the meantime, Hitchcock says he will plan on incorporating as many of the new country songs from his new album into the Air Supply set each night.

"I've spoken to Graham about that, and everyone is on board with it," says Hitchcock. "So we'll see what happens. It really hinges on how well the recordings are received and the exposure we get and success we have, I guess. Same for whether or not more country projects will follow after this one. Again ... it just depends on if the recording is received well."

Hitchcock hopes 'The Nashville Sessions' record is in fact a hit with his fans and draws in new fans at the same time. "I hope I have another opportunity to record in Nashville," Hitchcock says of the possibility of a second country album. "I'd love to do it anyways because we still had a bunch of songs that I wanted to cut, but we didn't have room to put it on this project. The writers at Better Angels Music that I worked with for this album write tremendously well. It was just a pleasure to record their songs, and I really hope I get their seal of approval with this album [laughs]!"

For more information on Hitchcock's new music or tour dates where he will be on his own or with Air Supply, visit his website here.

Watch the Russell Hitchcock 'Far Enough Away From Colorado' Video