It's been four years since Jamey Johnson's landmark 'The Guitar Song' album, and two years since he released his last recordings. But the critically acclaimed singer-songwriter has finally revealed his next move.

The recording side of Johnson's career has been dormant since the 2012 release of 'Living for a Song,' which saw Johnson re-working the songs of Hank Cochran. While he's toured steadily since, he's been dealing with a complicated tangle of contracts that he just found too restrictive.

Now Johnson has gotten back in the game in a rather unexpected way, releasing a new Christmas EP titled 'The Christmas Song.' The project features his interpretations of standards like 'The Christmas Song,' 'Pretty Paper' and 'Baby, It's Cold Outside,' and includes an original song called 'South Alabam Christmas.' Fans who find a Christmas release a surprising move will be even more astonished that the track features a flugelhorn solo from Johnson.

"I've never played a flugelhorn, but that didn't stop me from breakin' it out and trying my hand at a solo on that song," Johnson tells Rolling Stone. "My sisters have already chimed in and told me they're proud of ['South Alabam Christmas']. It takes them back to the trailer we grew up in, so I'm proud of that."

The EP is the first release from Jamey's self-owned and operated Big Gassed Records. He says the independent business model will allow him to take back creative control of his career.

"I've kind of always wanted to do my own label," he states. "When we released 'That Lonesome Song' on the internet, we turned around and got a label deal offered to us by one of the majors, and decided we'd do a deal with Mercury. I feel like I've worn out my welcome over there... might've stayed a little longer than I anticipated. But this is gonna be fun. It's gonna be a lot of work, but it's gonna be fun work."

Johnson says the days of having to wait years for new music are over.

"We're gonna start putting it out now, starting with this Christmas EP. And then you can look for another release from me after the start of the year," he reveals. "And you can look for more releases from me as the year progresses. We don't have to go through the same waiting process that other artists might have to, stand in line and wait to get their music out. We'll just kind of fall in line where we fit for retail -- and if we don't fit there, we don't fit there. It's not a problem to me."

Johnson also hopes to sign other artists to the label and produce whatever outside projects draw his interest.

'The Christmas Song' is currently available at iTunes.

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