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New dad Michael Buble says fatherhood has made him a better singer

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TORONTO - Michael Buble is on the telephone with a cluster of reporters, and he's certainly not camera-ready: he's wearing a black housecoat with a mismatched white belt (borrowed from his wife), and his nine-month-old son Noah has smeared pasta all over his face.

He "couldn't look like more of a dork," he notes, and his wife Luisana Lopilato renders her agreement by giving him a thumbs-down. But he's also the picture of domesticity, even ensconced as he is in a lengthy world tour that began its Canadian leg in Vancouver this week.

And the 38-year-old says, emphatically, that fatherhood has had a transformative effect on all aspects of his life, including his career.

"I'm better at what I do — way better," the Burnaby, B.C., native said in a conference call Wednesday. "There's a fulfillment and a joy that I have in my life that I didn't have before.

"I was always a happy guy, I always had a good life, but I didn't know how good it could be. That's the truth. This kid has brought something to my life that I never knew was there. I didn't know that kind of love existed.

"It's allowed me to be way better at what I do."

He launched this tour — in support of "To Be Loved," a double-platinum hit in Canada — last June, prior to Noah being born in August. Since then, he's performed sold-out gigs all over the world. This summer leg will include stops in eight Canadian cities, and by the end of the year he will have performed in 30 countries.

It's a lot, in other words, so it helps that Lopilato — an Argentine actress, model and singer with a demanding career of her own — and Noah have accompanied Buble most of the way.

They spent Father's Day zipping about Vancouver's Confederation Park in the pouring rain (after the four-time Grammy winner enjoyed breakfast in bed). He's surrounded by family even during this promotional chore; at one point during the call, he drifts off mid-answer to probe his son's mood ("Sorry, my kid's a little grumpy," he announces).

Buble and Lopilato try to synchronize their schedules, so she shoots films when he's off-tour and then their roles reverse, with Buble tagging along and acting as babysitter.

"It's keeping me sane, happy and disciplined," he said.

And oh-so-confident. Where he used to be studiously self-deprecating, Buble is instead proud to the point of boasting over his "To Be Loved" tour.

He points out that his "Crazy Love" trek had a $1.5 million budget, whereas this one, he says, cost $6 million.

And though he claims to have more nerves in anticipation of the Canadian leg of his tour than any other portion, he's also uniquely excited to swagger across these stages.

"I think people are going to understand why their Canadian boy did so well all over the world," he said. "Because this show isn't a good show. This show is one of the best shows in the world, without a doubt. And I think I'm one of the best in the world at what I do.

"I hope I'm a humble guy, but I don't say that with humility. I love doing what I do and I think it shows. ... I was so excited, when I (was) in the shower this morning, I'm thinking about it. I'm running my mind through what I want to do and things I want to say. I'm excited to show off."

Buble says even at this advanced stage in his career — which now spans eight multi-platinum studio and live albums in this country — his vocals are improving. He says he was once insecure, and he masked that insecurity through humour. He struggled to sing some songs with a straight face, he notes.

Some of his improvement can actually be chalked up to an unfortunate accident on this marathon tour. Onstage in Sydney, Buble was keeping time with his foot when he accidentally stomped the mike stand, which — like a rake — snapped up and hit him in the face, dislodging one of his teeth.

To mask the injury, he sang with his mouth as close to the microphone as possible for the rest of the night — and found it gave him a noticeable boost.

"The first thing my sound guy said was, 'That's the best you ever sounded. You finally really ate the mike,'" Buble recalled. "So the next three shows ... I ate the mike a lot more. I always sang off-mike a little bit, because it's comfortable for me. But I think I've learned that it doesn't work as well, especially when you sing the more intimate songs.

"It really allows you to capture the sound of your voice the closer you get."

— Follow @CP_Patch on Twitter.

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