updated 02/11/2014 AT 8:05 AM ET
•originally published 02/11/2014 AT 7:00 AM ET
It’s not every 78-year-old who releases a new album for Valentine’s Day – or has his friends Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood backing him up.
But, where showbiz is concerned, Steve Lawrence isn’t just any 78-year-old.
“To my knowledge, it’s over 50-something, and my first in 10 years, at least,” the familiar voice, calculating the number of albums he’s released since his first in 1953, tells PEOPLE from the home in Las Vegas he and his late wife Eydie Gorme shared since 1980.
Titled When You Come Back to Me Again, after the Garth Brooks song on the lead track, the new album contains 10 songs and, according to Lawrence, has him “surrounded with a new sound.”
Not that the listener should expect One Direction. “I can’t compete with the kids,” Lawrence admits, “but they can’t compete with me.”
In addition to some Elton John (The Lion King’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”) and other relatively recent hits, “I picked a handful of old songs that escaped me back in the day,” says Lawrence. These include those made famous by Nat “King” Cole (“That Sunday, That Summer”), Ruby and the Romantics (“Our Day Will Come”) and Mama Cass (“Dream a Little Dream of Me”).
“He’s a legend and one of the few that still sings like a young man,” the album’s producer, Ron Dante, tells PEOPLE. It was Dante, co-producer of Barry Manilow’s early hits, who two years ago called Lawrence out of the blue and proposed the album – which they actually finished a year ago.
“Eydie heard it,” said Lawrence. She said, ‘Honey, it sounds wonderful.’ ”
She and Lawrence, undoubtedly the most successful husband-and-wife musical duo in history, had already retired the act, but as his album was being prepped for release, Gorme’s health took a turn. Mike Curb, head of the record label, agreed to put the project on hold.
Gorme died last August. She and Lawrence had been married for 56 years.