The road to Faith Hill's 2013 album has been an unusually long one. The singer originally planned to release her first album since 2005 last year, but that obviously didn't happen.

Hill has been undergoing a bit of a musical metamorphosis, as she explained in an interview way back in February of 2011. "I didn't really intend to take this much time off in between albums," she told CMT. "But it's important for it to be the right thing for me musically. It's just the process. It's like a rediscovery. And in the midst of rediscovery, it just takes time. I didn't even realize it had been that long, to be honest with you, until someone told me that. But that's OK. I want it to be really good and represent me. I want it to be real."

The Inspiration
Hill is moving away from straight country or pop-country into a more personal mix of country and soul for her 2013 new album, which is rumored to be titled 'Illusion.' ”I came from the church; I’m a soul singer," she said last June. "I’ve tried for so many years to mesh the two worlds together. My love of country music has been my backbone; I was raised with country music. But I’m a soul singer, so to bring those two worlds together in a way that’s authentic and that is true — to me, that’s the most important thing. I want my music to be truthful. I feel like I’ve accomplished that.”

The Songs
It seems like Hill is waiting for just the right time to release her next album, and since it's been in a holding pattern for so long, we've actually heard three of the songs from it. Of course, 'Come Home' was the first single from the record -- a ballad with a modern production that has a strong, positive message. 'Illusion' is a song from the perspective of a scorned woman with heavy guitars and a strong beat, comparable to something Carrie Underwood might release, while 'American Heart' is another big message song that is the second single from the project.

What to Expect
Judging from her own descriptions and what we've heard so far, Hill definitely seems to be reaching for something a bit bigger and more meaningful than the lighter side of past work like 'Breathe' or 'The Way You Love Me' with her upcoming album, mixed in with a modern production that will help her compete against the female artists who are dominating country music right now -- most of whom are half her age. Commercially, Hill is in a strange place, which may be part of why her album has been so delayed. Now 45, Hill is up against the inherent ageism at country radio that hits women harder than men, and she has also been away from the marketplace for eight years. To give that some context, the last time Hill had an album out, Taylor Swift had yet to release her debut album. So Hill has some challenges to face -- but she also has a very large, very devoted fan base and a huge track record, and the enormous PR surrounding her Vegas residency with husband Tim McGraw won't hurt anything, either -- that is, if she ever gets around to actually releasing the album.