Danielle Bradbery has done a lot of growing up since the last time fans saw her.

Now almost 21, with a new album set to be released in 2017 and an addictive song, "Sway," as its first single, the singer is ready to make a new move in country music. Her new music takes Bradbery in a more mature direction, and she credits Thomas Rhett for giving her some great advice.

"Like, 'You know, you've just gotta unleash your inner you, and the badass part of you that no one else kinda knows about,'" she tells us with a smile.

She's definitely doing that with the album's lead single. "Sway" is as catchy as they come, stemming from her desire to add a "crowd participation" song to her catalog -- and that she did.

"It was so natural and just kind of happened, so I think that's what made it kind of loveable for us," she says about the vibe in the writer's room the day they wrote it, calling it a "very genuine" song. "It's for sure different than other things that I've put out. It's definitely a different sound that I kind of dug into. So it kind of all works out perfectly."

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Bradbery admits that the doo-wop style sound of "Sway" is not indicative of the album's overall sound, even though it will be a mix of genres to reflect her diverse interests.

"My heart's always country, but I just grew up listening to a lot of different songs, so I kind of took that and kind of sprinkled it everywhere," she says, adding there are a lot of emotional songs on the album and even some R&B-meets-country tracks. "So this next record is very honest and about real life things. I'm excited, it's a little bit nerve-wracking because of how honest, but that's what kind of my goal was."

Since being crowned champion of The Voice Season 4 in 2013 at the young age of 17, Bradbery has evolved significantly as both an artist and an individual. Like most teenagers, the country starlet was trying to figure out who she was, going through the normal phases of dying her hair and making questionable fashion choices, but in front of the eyes of millions of viewers on live TV.

"These last couple years I've really figured out not only who I am as a person, but as an artist, and now as a writer," she explains. "And the writing songs part is kind of the biggest for this next record because I'm a part of it all and that's really kind of comforting to me because I get to really share real life stories to the fans. When I'm singing, I feel like it's just me and I'm not having to sing something that I really can't relate to."

Her new project reflects all of that, drawing from real-life experiences and relationships. She spent a few quiet years after her Voice journey trying to figure out her own sound and how she wants to present herself to the world. And while she still faces bumps in the road when it comes to the industry, she knows it's all part of the journey.

"I personally did not know who I wanted to be really, how I wanted to come across for people," she admits. "I thought I had to meet expectations or I thought I had to meet all these things when in reality I'm like 'Okay, I need to focus on myself, really figure just kind of genuinely who I was.' So it was tough, but days went by and I'm figuring it out now, finally."

"Sway" will drop on country radio Aug. 28. The currently untitled album is set to be released in late 2017.

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