John LegendFor his past three releases, R&B singer-songwriter John Legend looked to the past for inspiration on his soul-splattered collections of fresh, original tunes. But instead of taking notes from classic soul records for his upcoming album 'The Wake Up Sessions,' the Ohio native is taking it one step further, narrowing down a handful of his favorite classics and recording his first official cover album.

"It's soulful," he tells The Boombox. "It's a little more retro. It's a collection of cover songs, so that's part of the feel of it, taking us back. We still have a bit of work to do on it, but we'll probably finish by the end of the year and put it out by the middle of next year." Legend has used his downtime between strings of tour dates to link up with The Roots crew, who are serving as the backing band on the project. And while he hasn't entirely ruled out getting a few guest stars to appear on the album, Legend is currently focusing on laying down the track for 'The Wake Up Sessions' with those Philly cats.
"I'm just going to get in my zone and see where it takes me," he said. Recently, his zone has taken him to a place far beyond the limitations of contemporary soul. Legend has collaborated with artists like electronic duo MSTRKRFT on the thumping 'Heartbreaker' and Ana Carolina on the Spanish-English duet 'Entreolhares (The Way You Look at Me),' thwarting the public's expectations of where Legend can comfortably fit. So what other musical territory does he plan on exploring?

"You never know," he states. "I'm always hoping for that and doing things that are outside of what people might expect of me. Just keep your ears open, and like I said, 'I'm always open. I think of music very fluid. I don't see the rigid boundaries that people put on it."

Legend doesn't have any collabos in store for the immediate future, instead putting in studio time to record a few more tracks for his fourth release. And with his tour having recently finished up, he's got tunnel vision about calling it a wrap for 'The Wake Up Sessions.'

"Music has been my primary focus," he says. "I like to go out there and have fun and make music I can be proud of."