Matt Sayles, AP
The countersuit seeks advance payment, recording-fund reimbursement and unspecified damages, as well as a jury trial, according to Billboard. It also requests 'Emotional Traffic' be deemed Tim's last album for Curb and to allow him to be "free to begin recording for himself or any other party as of July 23, 2011."
In Curb's lawsuit filed May 13 in a Davidson County court, the label states the album's tracks were recorded too early prior to its delivery "in a transparent tactic to attempt to fulfill his contractual recording commitment to Curb prematurely in breach of the recording agreement." They insisted Tim's recordings be "topical and new," and he had agreed that each new album be recorded "no earlier than 12 months and no later than 18 months" following the delivery of the previous album. The suit alleges Tim began recording 'Emotional Traffic' tracks "in 2008 or before," prior to the allowable period under contract, according to Curb.
In April, the superstar reported 'Emotional Traffic' would be his "absolute last album" with Curb, and while it has been finished since last fall, a release date has yet to be issued. "All the songs have been done for a long time, and the label has had it," Tim tells the Associated Press. "It's the last album that they have of mine, so they're trying to hold on to it as long as they can."
According to the countersuit filed May 23, Tim pronounced the album was recorded and mastered in 2009-2010 and Curb is holding the album "hostage from country music fans for the purpose of compelling Tim McGraw to serve perpetually under a contract that he has already fully and faithfully completed." Additionally, the singer's suit suggests Curb's "repeated serial releases of what it characterizes as greatest hits albums is obviously a naked attempt to create a perpetual recording contract, forcing Tim McGraw into a repressive environment of indefinite duration."
The relationship between the label and artist has often been quite contentious over the course of the past few years, especially as Tim was in disagreement with the fact Curb has released a number of hits compilations, especially the amount of collections between 2006 and 2010, concluding with the 'Number One Hits' in November 2010.
In 2008, Tim released a statement to fans after Curb Records released Tim McGraw's third greatest hits package. He wanted fans to know he had nothing to do with the collection, and he was unhappy about its release. "I am saddened and disappointed that my label chose to put out another hits album instead of new music ... I've only had one studio album since my last hits package. It has to be just as confusing to the fans as it is to me. I had no involvement in the creation or presentation of this record. The whole concept is an embarrassment to me as an artist."
At that time, Curb Executive Vice President and General Manager Dennis Hannon insisted Tim was aware of his 'Greatest Hits 3' collection.
Because of Curb's release of seven compilations (four in 2008 alone, which included the 'Limited Edition: Greatest Hits: Vol. 1, 2 & 3'), it extends the allowable delivery period to 24 months. The suit also goes into great detail why Tim is under the assumption 'Emotional Traffic' is his last and final album for the label, according to his contract.
Billboard also reports that along with the breach of contract charges against Curb, under which the label allegedly "enticed agents for Mr. McGraw to present the unfinished rough mixes [of 'Traffic'] under false pretenses ... to avoid paying the advance" for delivering the album, that Curb has interfered with relationships regarding his tour and the lack of his music at radio.
The Boot has contacted both attorneys, Jay Bowen for Curb Records and Rusty Jones for Tim, to check if they had any further comment. There has been no response as of yet.
In December, Tim revealed he was looking forward to the end of his 20+ year contract with Curb Records, which he signed in 1990, adding that he is taking a look around at the playing field. "I've got some really good options out there. I'm at a really good point in my career," he said during a press junket for the film, 'Country Strong.' "It's a long time coming. Twenty years with any label, I think, is too much, so unless you're really having a great relationship ... I think it's a good time for me to go out and see what's out there for me."
Tim is currently headlining his Emotional Traffic tour, which also features Luke Bryan and the Band Perry. His next scheduled stop is Friday (May 27) in Thackerville, Okla.