If you've seen Eric Church lately, you may have noticed that he's grown his beard out a little bit more than usual. That's not because he's gotten lazy abut shaving -- it turns out the beard is part of the musician's process for his next album.

In a press release from Capitol Records, Church says that he's begun working on the songs for the followup to 'Chief,' his breakthrough record, which won Album of the Year at the 2013 ACM Awards.

“We started the process, as evidenced by the beard," he states. "But it’s a process for me, so when people ask where we’re at, I don’t know. I don’t have like a definitive, ‘Here’s where we are.’"

While fans can't quite mark their calendar just yet, Church plans to trim his beard once he has the songs together for the next album -- so if you see him with less facial hair, you'll know he's one step closer. After that, he says, "There’s like 20 steps to get the record done. I’m excited creatively to see where we can go from here, and see what we end up with.”

Church's current single is 'Like Jesus Does.'