Tucker Beathard's anchor is now an asset. After being deemed 'too rock,' he and his old record label parted ways in early 2018. On Friday (Nov. 30) he released Nobody's Everything, a collection of nine songs that with a little effort and finesse could easily find their way onto rock playlists.

Several, he says, won't fit any place else but country, but it's difficult to identify which songs he means. During an album listening event at Analog inside the Hutton Hotel in Nashville on Wednesday (Nov. 28), host Storme Warren got it right when he said the rebellious son of a country songwriter is what you'd get if you mixed equal parts Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon and Merle Haggard.

"I want to ..." Beathard tells Taste of Country before the show, pausing to find the right words. "Instead of trying to fit in a certain place, try to find where we fit."

In a nutshell, that's how we got here. "Rock On" was a Top 5 single in 2017, but the follow-up, "Momma and Jesus," stalled, partially because his record label Dot Records folded, leaving him a part of the larger Big Machine family. Things went sideways quickly from there. A full-length called Dear Somebody was slated to be released without record label support a year ago, but at the last minute was shelved.

Beathard admits he was in legal turmoil until about April or May of this year. When Taste of Country caught up with him at Country Jam in Grand Junction, Colo., in June he was tired and in a very dark place, but he was also at the beginning of the album making process. It was a long process filled with 3AM recording sessions. "This Life" is where you hear the strain. It's a vulnerable, one-take vocal performance that questions everything. Along with "Brothers," it's the signature song.

Now rested and visibly excited about music again, the 23-year-old can talk about what pulled him through a very trying time.

“Personally, it was just having faith in my relationship with God, honestly," he remarks backstage before his Analog show. A short bottle of Sprite and a can of dip are within reach. Beathard doesn't have trained answers for every question, so at times he pauses and stutters to find just the right words. Then he'll speak again — now with striking conviction — about what pushes a man to give up a perfectly good record deal rather than compromise a little bit more.

"It brought me to a whole new place to where you hit a certain point, breaking point within yourself, a certain low, you get pushed to the point where there's no way to look but up," he says.

Residuals of that battle for his artistic identity can be found all over the raw, guitar-heavy arrangements and moody lyrics. Songs like "Leave Me Alone" don't spell it out, but it was inspired by fresh emotions. "Something to Say" and "How Gone Will I Go" are two more that may sound like guy/girl songs out of necessity, but they aren't. You learn a thing or two growing up in hitmaker Casey Beathard's (Eric Church, Kenny Chesney) household. For example, audiences don't relate to music business problems, so you need to obfuscate. One song that is about a girl is called "I Hate It," and he's currently dating the woman who inspired it. But once upon a time, he was convinced he'd screw it up.

“I had 100 percent freedom on this album. Every song serves a certain purpose and a certain side of me,” Beathard says. "At one point pop wasn’t a thing in country, but somebody did it and now it is."

"So who’s to say there’s any rules now about if you wanna rock or not," he adds.

Three songs from what should have been Dear Somebody made their way onto Nobody's Everything, but with new arrangements courtesy of producer Ryan Tyndell. Part 2 should be coming in early 2019, he says.

“I like to think of this first nine as darker — kind of like a journey through a darker place and wanting to get out," he says. "I think the second half is kind of lighter side. Not lighter as in the music — it rocks harder than the first half — but it’s a lighter ... like a fun light at the end of the tunnel kind of thing."

How you want to label it all doesn't make much of a difference.

These are the Best Songs of the 2000s!