NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tim McGraw and Curb Records could be headed to court over an unreleased album. The independent record label filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit last week against McGraw, claiming the country superstar failed to provide a fifth and final album that met contractual obligations under their deal by an April deadline.
McGraw turned in an album last fall called "Emotional Traffic," and a No. 1 single from those sessions has been released. But the label contends the singer did not record the songs on the album during a contractually stipulated window, thus breaking the deal.
The label asks a judge in the nine-page lawsuit filed in Davidson County Chancery Court not only to force McGraw to turn in new material for a fifth album, but also to revoke an agreement between the two that eliminated a sixth album from the deal. Curb also wants McGraw barred from signing with another label.
A spokeswoman for McGraw said in a statement Wednesday that McGraw believes he has met the terms of the contract.
"The label is holding the album hostage from country music fans in an attempt to force Tim McGraw to serve perpetually under a contract that he has already fully and faithfully completed," an email statement from McGraw spokeswoman Ambrosia Healy said.
McGraw, one of country's top-selling male singers who has crossed over into the film world, has had an often thorny relationship with the label and owner Mike Curb. The two sides clashed about 10 years ago, resulting in an amended record deal that reduced McGraw's obligation to Curb.
The release of greatest hits albums over the year has angered McGraw and he contends the label has done so to artificially lengthen his contract. He apologized to fans in 2008 after the label released a third greatest hits package.
He thought he was done with the label when he turned in "Emotional Traffic" last fall and told The Associated Press in an interview last month: "All the songs have been done for a long time, and the label has had it. It's the last album that they have of mine, so they're trying to hold on to it as long as they can," he said. "Whenever Mike Curb decides he's going to play fair, it will be out."
A message asking for comment from Curb was not immediately returned.
Curb contends McGraw turned in "Emotional Traffic" just two days after the window for his fifth album opened, violating a provision in the contract that says material on an album has to be recorded during a specific time period. Curb says some of the songs were recorded in 2008 or before and that the move was a "transparent tactic" to shorten the length of his deal.
The suit contends there would be "chaos" if artists were allowed to choose which provisions of a contract they will honor.
The move may delay the release of "Emotional Traffic," but it won't stop McGraw from sharing the album's music with his fans, the statement from Healy said.
"Tim McGraw has decided to perform new songs from 'Emotional Traffic' on his current tour because he feels it is one of his best ever. Most importantly, Tim McGraw wants to thank his fans for their continued support in his efforts to release new and exciting music."
AP writer Shelia Burke in Nashville contributed to this report.