It's been nearly two years since the release of Granger Smith's last album, which churned a handful of chart-topping singles. Now, the Texas country artist is prepared to release his latest collection of from-the-heart work, 'Poets & Prisoners,' on April 12.

"My intention with 'Poets and Prisoners' is to bring people in closer," Smith tells Taste of Country. "I want them to understand the emotions of each song and feel the ride it takes them on. Some of the songs hit painfully close to home while others skim the surface of lightheartedness," he says.

Smith's 2009 album, 'Don't Listen to the Radio,' birthed the song's title track -- as well as 'Gypsy Rain' and '5 More Minutes' -- as Texas Music Chart top singles. The Texas A&M graduate is hopeful that 'Poets & Prisoners' will produce similar results. "I've always thought that an album should be a roller coaster ride of ups and downs but distinctively on the same track," Smith says. "I hope people can dig in line by line, melody by melody and understand me as an artist that much more."

"As with any new record, I've taken and applied the lessons I learned from mistakes and successes of the previous," the singer says, adding that this record, like the last, was produced in his house with his band. "I will admit that I pushed them a little harder. I've always been super strict in the studio but there were definitely times on this album when not everyone saw eye to eye and we continued to push the boundaries melodically and rhythmically," Smith confesses. "These guys left their comfort zones and stepped down dark alleys where they had never been as a musician to create a sound that has not been tested in Texas country music. Pushing boundaries can be scary ... but the payoff births a lifetime career."

On his forthcoming album, the 'Colorblind' songmaker followed the old adage, 'Don't change a good thing.' "Essentially my intentions behind writing this album came from the stylistic path of what has worked for us in the past," he says. "My greatest hope is that we satisfy our current fans and blaze a path for new ones that we might gain from this. I hope that people can truly fall in love with the lyrics, the melodies, the album and the band."

On first glance, the 'Poets and Prisoners' album cover might seem to have a few similarities with Van Gogh's famous painting 'Starry Night' -- but Smith reveals that it's an image that he and his band witnessed in person while trekking through the canyons of eastern Wyoming. "I'm not sure if it was the winding road or the reflection through the windshield, but I looked up and was taken back by one of the biggest and brightest moons I've ever seen," he says, adding that the view is forever frozen in his memory. "The entire band was speechless as we pulled the van off the road and killed the lights alongside a tumbling mountain stream. It was the kind of moment when no one really talked we just … soaked it in."

Smith continues that it's moments like the one he and his band shared that shape his musical path: "That image spoke to all of us in our own way. It gave perspective to our journey and humility to our ambitions. These songs are the next chapter in that journey and I'll remember that vision every time I pick up a 'Poets and Prisoners' record."