To read more on Kelly Clarkson in EW’s Fall Music Preview, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands Friday, or buy it here now. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

Kelly Clarkson is still our Idol.

Fifteen years after winning the competition that made her a star, the singer covers EW’s Fall Music Preview issue and gives an exclusive first look at the making of her new album, Meaning of Life, out Oct. 27.

“This is a grown-ass woman’s record,” she tells EW. “This isn’t a record I could have made at the age of 20. This is a record you make when you’ve lived.”

Departing from the pop-rock sound that’s helped her sell more than 25 million albums worldwide, the LP is one she’s wanted to make since junior high: a soulful urban pop record that imagines what kind of album Aretha Franklin or Whitney Houston might make today. (Hear for yourself: She just released the album’s lead single, “Love So Soft,” as well as the album track “Move You.”) Meaning of Life is also the singer’s first album for Atlantic Records, which she joined last summer after an often tumultuous stint at RCA Records that began some very public career battles.

“People make fun of that show Nashville,” she says, “and I’m like, ‘The industry can be so much worse!’ It can be so hard to find the light sometimes.”

In the issue, Clarkson takes readers into the studio and into her Nashville-area home to detail the album’s inspirations, how her family life shapes her creative process, and why she decided to shut down a fat-shaming troll with the tweet heard ‘round the world this past summer. She also opens up about why she decided to join The Voice just as American Idol is about to make its return to television — and what it’ll take for contestants to succeed.

“A lot of people that I know, especially from Idol, don’t necessarily want to be singers or artists; they just want to be famous,” she says. “That is not going to bring you happiness. And a lot of it falls through the cracks because people make decisions based on what they think will make them famous instead of what will be good for them. I don’t really care about being famous … I’m not trying to impress anyone. I’m just me, and if you like that, cool. If you don’t, that’s totally cool too.”

But that’s not all! EW’s Fall Music Preview issue also includes a guide to more than 25 of the season’s biggest albums, featuring interviews with St. Vincent, Demi Lovato, Pink, Walk the Moon, Wiz Khalifa, Mavis Staples, Fergie, and more.

Credit: Ruven Afanador for EW