Josh Groban on Recording New Album at Home in Pandemic: 'When the Panic Set in, I Turned to Music'

Josh Groban got reflective in quarantine.

The multiplatinum singer just released his ninth studio album, Harmony, on Friday.

The 12-song set features covers of beloved classics (including "I Can't Make You Love Me" and "Celebrate Me Home"), as well as two original tracks, which Groban wrote during lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"When it first became clear the pandemic was going to get worse before it got better, and the panic set in, I turned to music, as I always have. I tried to listen to as much as possible, I tried to write as much as possible," Groban, 39, tells PEOPLE of the original tracks.

"I was not writing for this album. I was writing just as my own therapy. They were recorded primarily in the corner of my bedroom. I did some demos on GarageBand, which I learned how to use for the first time. I was doing it just for fun, like I would do when I was a teenager in my bedroom, just making noises just to make them — and feel better."

For more on Josh Groban, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Wednesday.

In addition to the new songs, Groban says the pandemic inspired him to re-record some of the covers he had already prepared for the album before the coronavirus crisis hit the U.S.

'To have the songs half done, to kind of have a theme that you knew you wanted to tackle, and for all intents and purposes a tracklist that kind of you felt ready to dive into, and then to have nothing, to have just silence and nothing on the calendar for the first time since was 16 years old… There's a lot of time just sit and think and dwell and get slap-happy," he says.

And so Groban played with new, different arrangements of some of the beloved tracks he re-imagined.

"We shifted songs like 'Both Sides Now' and 'Impossible Dream' — and 'The World We Knew' all of a sudden took on new and different meanings and felt right for this album right now," he says of the album opener. "The message of it just felt relevant. All of a sudden I'm singing about the world we knew during the pandemic, and suddenly it felt almost operatic in its scope."

While Groban is keeping busy doing livestream concerts and impromptu performances on Instagram (sometimes in his shower!) he looks forward to hitting the stage once again when it's safe to do so.

"I think a lot of us are taking stock in those things that matter the most to us right now. Especially when it comes to music and theater, when things come back, I think there's going to be a renaissance of appreciation for what the arts do in our lives, more than there ever has been in recent history," he says. "People want to get out, they want to connect, and they want to feel that. We don't know when that's going to be obviously, but we can't wait."

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