Brantley Gilbert recently released his third studio album, 'Just As I Am,' and he's very proud of the songwriting on the new project.

Gilbert took a moment to speak with Taste of Country's Billy Dukes during the opening day of the second annual Taste of Country Music Festival, which kicked off Friday (June 13) in Hunter Mountain, N.Y.

"You know what, I'm in love with all three records," Gilbert says. "They're all true stories . . . I've been writing on every one of them. Any time you write a song, it's like one of your babies. It's close to your heart."

Fans have already heard two of the heavier songs from the album; the raucous 'Bottoms Up' and 'Small Town Throwdown,' which features Thomas Rhett and Justin Moore. But the new release also contains some heartbreak ballads, and Gilbert says one of them might even be a single.

"Every good country record needs a breakup song, and I just so happened to have one of those in the past couple of years," he says ironically, in a low-key reference to his high-profile engagement to, and subsequent breakup from Jana Kramer. "There's a song on there called 'I'm Gone' . . . that one may be one of the ones."

He recalls, "That one kind of had a life of its own. I sat down with Wendell Mobley for the beginning of that one, and then it kinda grew legs and took off. It turned out really good."

Gilbert was one of the headliners on the opening night of this year's ToC Fest, delivering a high-energy set of 21 songs to more than 10,000 fans Friday night. Read about that performance and see exclusive pictures here.

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