Phil VassarWhen Phil Vassar releases his next album in February, he is proud to say it was he who was boss in the recording studio. Unlike his previous albums, this new project -- which he's calling 'Traveling Circus' -- was completely self-produced, for the first time in Phil's career.

"I didn't need anyone to help me do this one," the prolific singer/songwriter tells the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I didn't have to worry about people looking over my shoulder and telling me what to do. It was very freeing and liberating."

'Traveling Circus' will offer Phil's signature mix of fun and serious songs. The first single is a ballad titled, 'Everywhere I Go.' Co-written with Jeffrey Steele, it describes haunting feelings after the end of a relationship.

"Out of breakups come great songs," says Phil, also explaining that this song doesn't just pertain to romance. "You lose somebody, and you see them in everything .. It's a pretty strong theme."

The real emotional reward for Phil comes when he knows he has touched the lives of others who hear his music -- whether he has drawn tears or laughter. "Then, it actually crosses over into someone's life, and it's like it's written for them," he says. "If you can write something that makes you really laugh, really cry ... I think you've really got something."