Eric Church recently confirmed an exciting piece of news about which fans were already speculating: He's planning to release not one, but three albums in 2021. The trilogy, entitled Heart & Soul, is broken up into three discs that will be released on separate days in April.

It's an unconventional rollout plan to be sure, but Church created Heart & Soul just as unconventionally. The massive project -- which contains 24 tracks in total -- was made during a marathon songwriting and recording retreat that the singer and a selection of his closest musical collaborators undertook early in 2020, leaving Nashville behind for almost a month to work in a makeshift studio in the mountains of North Carolina. Each day, they created a song from beginning to end, writing it in the morning and recording it in the afternoon.

"I've always been intrigued when a song is born in a writer room -- there is a magic that happens there," Church reflects in an interview with his label, UMG Nashville. "I wanted to put that in studio form. So, every day, we would write a song in the morning, and we would record the song that night.

"Doing it that way allowed for the songwriters to get involved in the studio process and the musicians to be involved in the creative process," he continues. "You felt a little bit like you were secretly doing something that was special, and you knew it ... You started going, 'Hmmm, wait 'til the world finds out about this.'"

Church's focus was on the music-making format, so much so that he didn't exactly know what the big picture would turn out to be. The singer explains that the triple album idea came later: Early on, he simply focused on making sure that every song was the best it could possibly be.

"The interesting thing about this process is that [producer] Jay [Joyce] kept asking me the last three or four days, 'Are we done?' And at that time, I didn't know what the project was," he reveals. "I kept saying, 'God, this is going to be really hard. There's a lot here. Is this a double album? And if it's a double album, how do we leave out these five or six songs?'"

Church points out that he worked hard to ensure that there would be no excess material on the finished product, and that every song the team included deserved its spot on what would ultimately become Heart & Soul. "I am the hardest critic on making sure every song deserves to be on the record, and I beat this thing to death going, 'This can't be that good,'" the artist says.

"But it was just a special, special time," Church adds, "and a special, special project that I think will be among our best."

Heart & Soul's three discs will come out on April 16 (Heart), April 20 (&) and April 23 (Soul), with the middle project's six songs available exclusively on vinyl to the singer's Church Choir fan club..

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