After having vocal cord surgery at the end of last year, Keith Urban went on three weeks of extremely difficult vocal rest, during which time he couldn’t speak, sneeze, cough or communicate with his young daughters, who didn’t understand why their dad was silent. But now, on the other size of the trying process, Urban says he feels like a football player in his 40s who was given the knees of a 20-year-old.

“It’s an extraordinary feeling of freedom,” the ‘For You’ singer tells the Associated Press. “I don’t have to push the pedal down to 70 mph to reach those notes anymore.” Urban had been dealing with vocal cord issues for years before the surgery, but it wasn’t until a polyp developed on his vocal cord that he truly began to feel the effects of the issue, barely hitting those high notes and watching his natural falsetto begin to wane.

Thankfully, it seems the results of the surgery were nearly immediate after Urban came out of his time of vocal rest. Following heavy work with a vocal coach, the hitmaker has been working on getting his maximum voice back, and so far it seems he’s regained his talent — and more. With a newfound voice and a new freedom in his singing and songwriting, Urban says his next record will likely explore issues about his personal stories, beyond his relationship with actress wife Nicole Kidman and into subjects he hasn’t before brought into the writing room.

“So I think getting my voice back has sort of been a metaphor for finding my voice more so as well as an artist, broadening it, really, to the things that I want to write about and I feel ready to write about that I guess I haven’t in recent years,” he says.

Urban — and his voice — will be joining a cast of country superstars Tuesday, April 10 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena for the Country Music Hall of Fame All for the Hall benefit concert.

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