When Lyric Street Records closed its doors earlier this year, several emerging artists were found without a label home. One of those artists was country crooner Trent Tomlinson. After struggling to pitch himself to other record labels, the 35-year-old has now decided to take control of his own future.

"I decided to stir the pot a little bit," Trent tells The Boot in his first interview about the new music. "I sent one song to some of my key friends at country radio, and they told me I didn't need a record label ... to just go record it and give it to them to play."

Trent did that very thing, and he quickly found himself back on the radar and back on country radio. "I'm starting to generate stuff on my own, so I thought the best thing would be for me to do is finish this album and to keep continuing to do what I'm doing and make some noise. It's amazing what it's done thus far without any of the support from a major label. The music is speaking for itself. It's a real exciting time, especially because I get to do exactly what I want to do musically."

The result is a new 12-track album that is pure country and pure Trent, as he didn't have to answer to anyone but himself on the new project. "It's all of the songs that Lyric Street wouldn't let me record all those years," Trent says with laughter. "I'm getting to record them now! I'm real excited about doing that. It's amazing the response I'm getting from country radio with this stuff. They've said it sounds like I'm happy, and I truly am. I'm ecstatic about what I'm doing."

Like his debut record, 'Country Is My Rock,' which spawned the Top 30 hits 'Drunker Than Me,' 'One Wing in the Fire' and 'Just Might Have Her Radio On,' Trent wrote or co-wrote every track on the new album. "A lot of the stuff is stuff I wrote years ago. One particular song is like eight years old," he says. "It's just been hanging around my catalog for a long time, and it's finally getting to see the light of day."

The song Trent is referencing is the Eric Church collaboration, 'Dry County Exit Road.' "It's tough when you have a lot of people who are involved in your career because they have their own opinions to what they think is right, and you've got to listen to them because you don't know everything," Trent notes. "I never could get anybody on board with recording this song. Finally I went in there and did it on my own. It's probably the gem of the whole album. It's one of the best things we've got. I'm real excited about getting to do things like that. I can take some chances on some things I can really feel in my gut are right, instead of having to play the game."

The first single off the album is the tender 'Cross My Heart,' which he penned after marrying model Jessica Lowman in 2008. "It's a song about a guy who's dating a girl ... they're at dinner or some place in public, and an ex-girlfriend of his walks in the room. Basically his new girlfriend is looking at him -- not asking any questions -- but just looking at him going, 'Do you still care about her?' The whole song is basically saying, 'Ever since the day I met you, she never crosses my mind.'

"It's a really cool song," Trent continues, admitting that writing love songs is something he doesn't do often. "It's a true story. When I married my wife, Jessica, and we would see somebody I used to date, I could tell she was really wondering if I still cared about [my ex]. The truth is at one time I did, but the day I met [my wife], it was all over. That's pretty much what it's about. It's about saying, 'Hey look ... I don't even know who that person is anymore. I don't ever think about her anymore.'"

There is another very important girl in Trent's life, however, and one who certainly takes center-stage in his heart: daughter Harleigh, who turns three in January. "She's something else," says the proud daddy. "I had her in her car seat the other day, and I was listening to work tapes of these new songs that I was writing. She goes, 'Daddy, put on some real music.' She knows the difference between a real track and the work tapes I was playing. I'm thinking, 'There's nothing like your daughter being your worst critic!' [laughs]"

While Harleigh may not have picked up the desire to play music just yet, Trent says she has the gift for determining what songs will be successful. "She knows a hit song when she hears it. Before 'Lover, Lover' was a hit for Jerrod Niemann, we were riding around in the truck, and she's back there just singing along with it and moving her mouth to it. She did the same thing with [Jason Aldean's] 'Big Green Tractor.' I gauge some stuff off her when I play things. Even at that age, she still knows what's going on ... especially if it's a demo track!"

Besides being his sounding board for hits, Trent also credits his little girl for something far more significant. "She's really saved my life," Trent says. "She is the greatest thing that's ever happened to me. I can't stand being away from her. It's tough being a daddy and being gone. It's hard."

Luckily for Trent, his touring is winding down as he prepares for the holidays which will be spent in North Carolina where he lives with Jessica and Harleigh. But Trent is looking forward to a busy 2011 as he continues to create a buzz with the new music he feels truly represents who he is as an artist.

"I'm excited to get this thing out there for people to buy and put myself back on the map and get myself going again," Trent says with a smile. "This train's rollin', and I'm not going to wait on anybody to do anything for me. I'm just trying to create my own buzz, and I think we're doing that. This album is the best thing I've ever done, musically. It's exciting. I hope everybody enjoys it as much as I've enjoyed making it. It truly has been a roller coaster, but it's been well worth it for sure."

Look for Trent's new music to hit iTunes later this month.