We haven't heard a lot from country superstar Trisha Yearwood in the past two years, and with good reason. First and foremost, she's been enjoying the quiet life in Oklahoma with best-friend-turned-husband Garth Brooks and his three young daughters. Second, she's left longtime label MCA for the smaller, independent Big Machine Records. The product of her newfound families is 'Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love,' the multiple Grammy winner's 12th studio album. We sat down with Yearwood to talk about how this new project shows a different side of the angelic-voiced singer. Plus, she speaks candidly about her new role as a stepmom, living just a stone's throw from Brooks' ex-wife.

If you had to describe the new album in three words, what would they be?

Energy, energy, energy! [laughs] I'm sort of known for ballads -- those are my bread and butter. But there were just so many cool, uptempo songs that showed up for this record. And some of it was the enthusiasm that transferred into the studio. A lot of that came from changing things up, signing with a new label -- there's a lot of energy there. It just seems like this record was meant to be. So maybe those are my three words: "meant to be." Because when I listen back now, I hear how much fun I was having during the process.

We hear that for the first time, you didn't blow out a microphone recording this album.

I haven't actually torn them up. [laughs] But you can sing at a level that will distort. And when a microphone distorts in the studio, they put what's called compression on it, which is a machine that takes your voice and kinda takes the meat out of it, so that it will sound pretty on tape. But that takes all the guts out of it! And it doesn't sound as rich and full and big. And I was tired of compensating -- I didn't want compression on my voice. So on the big notes, I would back off from the microphone or not sing the big notes quite as loud. And one of the comments my husband made before I went into the studio was "I wish you'd go in there and just let the horses run." So I needed to find a microphone that I can't hurt! [laughs] So we spent a lot of time singing into different mics and finally found one that works. And it belongs to a friend of mine, so I'm gonna have to see if he'll sell it to me.

Is there one song on the album you're particularly proud of?

Well, I could go through the whole album and tell you why I love each one, because I think it's my favorite collection of songs that I've ever done. My sentimental favorite, though, is the last cut, 'Sing You Back to Me,' because it immediately made me think of my father. This is the first record I've made since he passed away. We were very close, and when I heard that song, I thought, "This is for my dad." And I wasn't looking for a song to dedicate to my father, but when I heard this song, I thought, "Wow, I really want to sing this ... even if it's just for me to have myself." So we went in after the record was done with just an acoustic guitar and did a performance of this song just for me to have, to give to my mom and my sister. And my producer, Garth Fundis, said, "It's emotional and it's real, and you need to put it on the record."

Next: Trisha Talks Big Moments and Big Hair