Carlton Anderson knows better than to try to change his musical identity. "My style's just who I am. I'm from Texas, and that's the country music I grew up singing," he explains. "If I tried to do anything else, it'd look dumb, and y'all would be able to tell I was faking it."

Fortunately for the singer-songwriter, staying true to his roots has been paying off. Anderson grew up listening to Texas country greats -- George Strait, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson -- and has since had the chance to co-write with musicians that he describes as the "modern-day versions of those guys."

"[Like] the Dean Dillons of the world. I've been fortunate enough to write with Dean, which was ... an experience," he relates. "He didn't hate my idea! He said, 'Man, that sounds like a record.' I said, 'Dude, thank you,' and then tried not to say anything dumb for the rest of the day."

Anderson loves writing with legendary artists like Dillon because he shares their vision of what country music should be. "Those are the kinds of people that are storytellers," he continues. "The people who are writing the kinds of country songs that make you feel something. That's what country music's about."

Anderson's most recent two songs, "Country Music Made Me Do It" and "Keep Abilene Beautiful," showcase that commitment to a traditional sound -- and a love for co-writing with artists he admires. The former was co-written with John and TJ Osborne of the Brothers Osborne, as well as songwriter Jessi Alexander.

"It just made sense to cut that song," Anderson adds of "Country Music ..." "When anybody asks me what I play, I say I play country music, so it makes sense."

As he debates which of the two to release as a single, Anderson acknowledges that both songs express an important aspect of the traditional country format -- and of his own identity as an artist.

"With "Abilene," it shows a different side of what we can do and what we hope to be able to do," he goes on to say. "We've got two honky-tonk barroom songs that we came out with, and then here's "Abilene," more of a mid-tempo, heartfelt, make-you-feel-something [song]. Whenever it's time to select a single, we'll figure it out."

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