Jake Owen has had his share of surf and sun, laid-back, beach-driven hits. But he doesn't just want to be known, in his words, as the "f---ing beach bum."

"A lot of folks think I'm just the 'Beachin'' guy, I'm the f---ing beach bum," the 33-year-old tells Rolling Stone. With songs like 'Barefoot Blue Jean Night' and 'Beachin',' Owen has certainly built a reputation that tends toward lighter hits with less substance, but he wants to change that.

"I'm not downplaying that," the singer insists. "I've made a good living and a good career out of doing songs like 'Barefoot Blue Jean Night.' I take a lot of pride in being a pretty good singer, and songs like 'Barefoot Blue Jean Night' and 'Beachin',' where I'm kind of just talking, don't showcase that."

Adds Owen, "For the first time in my career, I feel like it's imperative for me to put out a song that offers some validity."

With that in mind, his newest single, 'What We Ain't Got,' is deeply heartfelt and tackles sobering topics like missing out on the here and now. The song was a surprising switch, offering a side of Owen that fans haven't really seen. It exemplifies his new focus as an artist.

Owen hopes the change in direction will bring about awards that he's previously missed out on. He was not nominated for any CMA Awards in 2014, and he's adamant that earning those accolades is something he wants.

"I admire all these people that are winning awards and I commend them for it, but I want that too," Owen declares. "In order for me to do that, I have to be recognized as someone that isn't just making up songs that are ditties."

The singer credits great stars before him with inspiring him to put out fantastic songs. "People ask me all the time, 'Why do you do this?' Because I love country music," he says, "everything dating back to Marty Robbins all the way to Roger Miller to Hank Williams Jr. to Alan Jackson.

The one thing they have in common? "They all put out great songs."

"I want to be a bigger part of this business," Owen adds. "And in order to do that, I have to offer something up that will connect with people on a level differently than 'let's party.'"

To be clear, the country star can certainly throw a party. Currently, he's finishing up his 2014 Days of Gold Tour, which he's described as "one big party," and although the substance of his songs will change, it will bring a deeper, honest, rawer Owen, which fans will appreciate.

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