The Tennessee country star's highly anticipated It Must Be Christmas album releases October 14

Chris Young Christmas Album Cover
Credit: Jeff Johnson

You'll find hundreds of thousands of fans anxiously awaiting Chris Young's new Christmas album. Complete with 10 soulful songs—some with notable collaborations with artists like Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, and Boyz II Men—It Must Be Christmas is a mix of eight classics, like "Silent Night," and two originals, including "Under The Weather. We've listened to it—you're going to want a copy this holiday season.

When the album was recorded in July, the crooning Tennessean got himself into the spirit with a Christmas-light-decorated studio and homemade Christmas cookies. We sat down with the star to hear about his take on the new album and his favorite Christmas memories.

First of all, how hot was it outside when you had to wrap up in a flannel scarf and coat to shoot the album's cover?
(Laughs) Oh man, it was hot. It's a little odd when you're in a jacket and a scarf and it's about 100 degrees outside.

Why did you decide to do a Christmas project?
I've wanted to make a full Christmas album for a while now. I love Christmas time and I love Christmas music, and it's definitely exciting to be able to do a full album, instead of just a song here or there. But really, it's Sony allowing me to do it and having the time this year, and having the songs. I think it all came together at the right time.

What's your favorite song on the album?
I don't know if I could pick a favorite. You know, there are so many things on the record that are cool but are very different from each other. Obviously being able to have guests that you are really a fan of and are also all very different from each other—not only the songs that they did, but also sonically speaking—it's the difference between Boyz II Men and Alan Jackson and Brad Paisley. It'd be tough to try to pick one. We had it narrowed down to ten (laugh), that's about as far as I can go.

How did you choose which Christmas songs to include?
Yeah, that's definitely one of the first things we really had to tackle. There are so many songs that you can record that you love at Christmas time, and finding the ones that, I thought, would not only be my favorites, but also what everybody else wanted to hear. And, of course, we put a couple new things on the album and hosted some guests, so we had to figure out which songs would work for that. It was a process, but I'm really, really happy with the result.

What's your favorite Christmas memory from your childhood?
Probably just being able to spend Christmas time with my family and driving around looking at lights. That's a memory from a couple different years. I'd be in the car with my mom, my dad, and my sister, and we'd drive around playing Christmas music, and looking for lights on people's houses. It's one of those memories that totally takes me into that Christmas spirit, 100 percent.

What's the best Christmas gift you've ever received?
I did get my first guitar as a Christmas gift, and that's been pretty important (laughs). I don't remember exactly how old I was, but it was pre-teenager. I was definitely still a kid, and it was a gift that meant a lot to me.

Get Chris' new album, It Must Be Christmas, beginning October 14, 2016.