Nothing has changed for Adam Sanders, except everything. The "Over Did It" singer recalls a time a year or two ago when the songs he was recording were personal and honest, yet somehow not quite right for him and definitely not right for his career.

“We felt like Nashville wasn’t necessarily paying attention,” the nine-year Nashville veteran tells Taste of Country. So Sanders, a well-known songwriter in Nashville, brought his team together and laid out a vision built on five pillars that were equal parts epiphany and an end to a journey.

Then he asked for full creative control, and he got it.

“Ever since we (including management and his publisher) made that decision I can just tell you that I walk a little lighter," he says. "I don’t feel the weight on me."

Family, faith, fitness, the outdoors and music ... those are the five pillars that holds Sanders upright. Each is a priority that a song has to work toward to make the cut. Maybe on paper, nothing changed. He is, after all, still singing his songs, and these songs still lean more country than rock with a hardy tip of the hat to the '90s. What makes it real is having to give up on good songs because they just don't fit. That's when a marketing slogan becomes a way of life.

Soon after this meeting, Sanders started to cull a list of 20 to 30 songs down to six — the right six.

“In my mind I kept going back to ‘Listen, you’ve gotta pick the songs that speak to your brand the most and when people listen to this EP, there’s not gonna be a question anymore about who Adam Sanders is an an artist,'" he says with much more audible focus and confidence than he did when Taste of Country first talked to him in 2014. What makes it real is having to introduce your best songs. These are the ones he was forever saving for a larger platform, or maybe a record deal.

"Over Did It" tops that list. The song was written as he was being swept up in all the emotions that come with new love. His writing team just went for it. "For a long time I’ve always sort of held back my best songs," Sanders admits. "This is the first song that I truly believe that if I have a song that’s going to change my career, it’s going to be this song."

Adam Sanders

The six songs on the just-released Adam Sanders EP represent a clear vision of who he is as a man. Beginning right now, he's no longer the kid who wrote that one song for Cole Swindell or another for Dustin Lynch ("Ain't Worth the Whiskey" and "Hell of a Night," respectively). Sanders is a man who puts a dark, poetic love song called "Burnin' Roses" alongside a smiling heartbreaker wrapped in a '90s tribute called "Alan Jackson."

"I want songs that can rock a stadium, but I also want songs that can stop a stadium,” he says. And now he wants more than just his songs — he wants songs that are right for him.

 “I felt like I’m going to war with a gun that someone else has given me," he recalls. "If I’m gonna go to war, I wanna pick the gun."

Best Country Songs of the 1990s

See 50 Essential '90s Country Songs

More From KLAW-FM