Michelle Branch returns in September with her fourth solo album, The Trouble With Fever, a pandemic-era project that she recorded and co-produced with Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney — who also happens to be her soon-to-be-ex-husband.

Branch filed to end her three-year marriage on Aug. 12, citing irreconcilable differences as the split, though hours before announcing the couple's breakup, she posted a since-deleted tweet accusing Carney of infidelity. And although it's natural for fans to parse the lyrics of her upcoming musical collection for cues about Branch's relationship and divorce, the singer finished making The Trouble With Fever in 2021, long before announcing her breakup.

While this album might not contain songs written about her divorce, Branch tells Billboard that the next project certainly might.

"I have a lot of s--t I want to write about now," the singer says, explaining that she'll be excited to go into a new cycle of songwriting after The Trouble With Fever comes out. "This is finally leaving the nest and making room for new stuff, and that's always exciting, too."

Still, she says that making her new project was "really special time for me," and that she'll always "look back on making this record with such fondness." It marked a brand new way of writing songs for Branch, since it was early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, and her collaborative possibilities were comparatively very limited.

It's also been with her for a long time. Branch says she considered releasing the project in 2021, but decided to hold off when she found out she was expecting a baby. "I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, so we pushed it back," she explains. "It kind of feels like this day was never gonna come, and it's bringing up a lot of really nervous excitement."

But especially with her divorce news hanging in the air, Branch says that now is the perfect time to channel her energy into an album rollout.

"It has been the best distraction ever," she admits. "I think if I didn't have this record coming out, I would probably be in bed crying all day."

She also adds that the prospect of touring without Carney — who's been her creative partner for much of their relationship — is alluring. "It's actually made me more excited about going out on the road and playing these shows in the next few weeks, and being reacquainted with who I am on my own," the singer says.

"It's been a while since I've not had that creative partner with me, as far as, like — going on tour, planning, rehearsing and figuring out sounds through live shows," she adds. "All that stuff is so intertwined."

The Trouble With Fever is due out Sept. 16.

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