SINGAPORE - Canadian crooner Michael Buble is releasing Higher, his first album in three years, this month.
The multi-Grammy winner worked on his 11th album throughout the pandemic and it includes covers of songs by iconic singers such as rock poet laureate Bob Dylan and soul singer Sam Cooke, as well as originals such as lead single I'll Never Not Love You.
Here are five things to know about what went down behind the scenes of the best-selling artiste's new offering.
The last few years have been hard for his family
Buble, 46, took time off in 2016 after his eldest child Noah, then three, was diagnosed with liver cancer. He is married to Argentine actress Luisana Lopilato and they have another son and a daughter.
Noah has since fully recovered. Buble released his 10th album, Love, in 2018.
The singer says during a Zoom video call with South-east Asian media: "The truth is when I put out Love, I didn't know if I was ready to come back. I was still hurting.
"Now, I feel so good. I'm so good in my heart and satisfied that I just felt so open and happy to make hopeful and beautiful music, and I felt like I needed it. I feel like the world needed it."
I'll Never Not Love You is a sequel to his 2009 hit song, Haven't Met You Yet
Lopilato, 34, stars in the music videos for both songs. Haven't Met You Yet is from Crazy Love, Buble's sixth album.
The music video for I'll Never Not Love You also revealed that Lopilato is pregnant with their fourth child. The couple married in 2011.
"It's about promising someone that if they trust you and give you their vulnerability, you won't hurt them," Buble says of the new single. "Because it's scary to fall in love. Love is expensive, love has a great cost. When you really love someone, you are putting yourself at risk and the song is saying 'Risk that for me, and I'll love you forever.'"
He got a lot more work done by staying home
Pandemic travel restrictions turned out to be a blessing in disguise because Buble found out it was easier to connect to new collaborators through video calls from home.
"All of a sudden, I was being introduced to people I've never worked with before," he says. "Instead of setting up meetings and flying to Los Angeles, it's now let's just meet on Zoom. A lot of the record was made with me kind of walking around the house with my kids," he says.
He hopes the new songs will unite people
There is too much negativity in the world, says Buble, and he wants to play "a small part" in bringing people together.
"What I found interesting was that when the pandemic hit, it put everyone on a level playing field," he says.
"And I felt that maybe, for the first time in our lives, in humanity, every single person from every country - I don't care if you're young, old, rich, poor, black, white... We all thought the same thing. All of us, we were scared, we were anxious. Our mental health became an issue."
He got two of his music idols to appear on the album
Higher includes Buble's duet with American country music legend Willie Nelson - a cover of the latter's 1961 song Crazy.
Buble also does a rendition of British music icon Paul McCartney's 2012 number My Valentine. This new version is also produced by the ex-Beatle.
"Willie Nelson is one of my favourite singers," he says. "He puts the story across emotionally better or as well as anyone in the world."
And because McCartney wrote My Valentine for his wife, Buble felt it was an honour "to know that someone I admire so much had trusted me to hold his art and interpret a song that means so much to him".
Higher will be available on music streaming platforms from March 25.