Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Rainforest FundJames Taylor has big plans for the rest of 2017.

In addition to his upcoming series of large-venue concert dates with longtime friend Bonnie Raitt, Taylor plans to head back into the studio to record the follow-up to his 2015 album, Before This World. That release, his 17th overall and first of all-new material in over a decade, became the first to hit number one on the Billboard chart.

Taylor tells the Berkshire Eagle his next collection will be another album of cover tunes, songs he enjoyed while playing in a band with his brother, Livingston, during their high school years in North Carolina.

He explains, “I’ve lived with those early songs for such a long time, they’ve worn such a groove in my brain. I really want to record some of them, basically a guitar and voice interpretation of these classics.”

As for sticking to a recording schedule, Taylor says, “It has to be open-ended. I’ve learned my lesson over and over again. When you set a deadline and book a tour to support it, you always blow through the deadline.”

During their upcoming shows, Taylor and Raitt plan to each do hour-long sets of their own before joining up to perform some tracks together.

Although he has serious concerns about the current administration, Taylor cautions, “Mine is not a political show in any way, shape or form. I don’t judge anyone’s politics; it’s not my role, and I do think my show is a politics-free zone.”

Taylor continues, “I’m a citizen, interested and concerned, and I do get involved…But my typical citizen’s knowledge of where the government is going is no more valid than anyone else’s. I don’t use the bully pulpit.”

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