Stephanie Quayle's newest single, "If I Was a Cowboy," is more than just a celebration of the singer's Montana roots. An anthemic tip of the hat to those times in life when you have to put on a stiff upper lip and act tougher than you feel, the song resonated with Quayle so personally that it changed the way she went about selecting songs for her upcoming new album.

""If I Was a Cowboy" was the catalyst for it all," Quayle explains. "When we recorded it ... there was this fundamental westernness of my sound that I've been looking for and striving for, and we found it."

Not only has identifying that sound changed the way the singer writes, but it has also made the process of selecting songs that are pitched to her even harder: "There'll be a smash that'll come through, and I'll be like, 'I love this, but I'm not that girl,'" she goes on to say. "I would love to sing this song. But it has to be authentic, especially when it's not a song that I've written."

It takes a long time to form the self-knowledge to know which songs to turn away, especially when you live in Nashville, surrounded by artists with all kinds of styles and perspectives.

"As artists and songwriters, it takes time to really identify our own voice, because there's so many people speaking into our lives," Quayle relates, adding that ultimately, having to focus on her inner voice makes her a stronger artist. "It's a beautiful thing, because there's something that [your collaborators] see in you that they wanna be a part of. And I think when you can really identify yourself and fortify that, it makes it a lot easier to make those decisions, navigate songs and sound.

"It takes time!" she admits with a laugh. "You can't force it."

For Quayle, much of the learning process happens onstage: "That's where I feel like I have the most authentic experience when it comes to music, because it's artist-fan," she says. "[My fandom], 'The Flock of Quayle' -- I live and breathe for creating moments, experiences, soundtracks that will move them. And so, usually, if a song isn't right, that's where it shows up."

Interestingly, sometimes playing a song live also proves to her that the music does work -- even if she didn't necessarily think it would while she was in the studio.

"I've also had the opposite happen, where I take it to the stage and ... it makes total sense," she continues. "So it's an interesting thing. When you're in the studio recording, you have so many more controls. When you're onstage, it's visceral. It either is or it isn't."

As she continues to work on new music, having a greater self-awareness of her own sound lets Quayle go into the songs on her upcoming project -- which she hopes to release in the fall of 2019 or in early 2020 -- with a greater sense of purpose.

"It is intentional and focused with what I want to say, and I know what I want the overall feel of the project to be," she says. "I want people to feel inspired. I want people to feel free when they listen to my music, and want to take to the open road."

Quayle's "westernness" is ultimately about freedom, and "If I Was a Cowboy" is one important manifestation of that. The rest of the songs on her album will explore other aspects of the theme, but the singer knows that the most important part of finishing the project will be delivering her message clearly and without reservations.

"Someone was asking me what this next album sounds like, and I identify it as if you just threw your suitcase in the back of a truck, you're pulling into the driver's seat, putting down a cowboy hat, rolling down your windows and just taking off," she adds. "That's what this album feels like to me."

WATCH: Stephanie Quayle Performs "If I Was a Cowboy"

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