Kellie Pickler will be the first to admit that working on her latest album, '100 Proof,' was anything but roses. In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, the 'Tough' singer opens up about her recent split from her record label, Sony Nashville, and why she chose to walk away.

"Recording this album, to be honest -- and I don’t mind saying this -- the process was hell," she reveals. "We couldn’t agree on songs. The thing is -- my life is a country song. I don’t need to be manufactured, and I don’t need anyone to tell me what to say or what to sing."

Though Pickler views the project as her most authentic, following her sixth place finish on Season 5 of 'American Idol,' the North Carolina native cites shifts within her former label home as the culprit behind the project's commercial backfire.

"The only consistency was inconsistency," admits Pickler. "When my album came out, I didn’t even have a song out on the radio. Nobody does that."

"[The label was] spread thin. When I was making my record, the CEO left. He retired. They brought in Gary [Overton]. My A&R left. They brought in somebody else," says the singer. "I went through four heads of promotion when my record was coming out."

Even with a handful of hits to her name from her first two albums, Pickler acknowledges '100 Proof' as her first effort that was really embraced with critical praise. In her words, "It’s the only album that I’ve ever had that the critics have embraced. You know why? Because it’s me."

'The Letter to Daddy,' a self-penned tune on the album, showcases a dimension of Pickler never seen before by fans. "That is the most intimate, personal song that I’ve ever written or released," she spills. "That song is so special to me."

"I’ve had fathers that have kids come up to me and say, 'Thank you for writing that song. It helped my daughter and I heal,'" Pickler shares. "There was a girl -- her father was an addict and he ended up dying two days before she got to meet me, but that song helped them. That right there just showed me that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and doing exactly what I’m supposed to do."

Despite the dip in album sales following the release of '100 Proof,' Pickler remains adamant in retaining her new sonic style going into her new project.

"This is all I’ve ever wanted to do. The first time I ever walked into Sony, and I saw Dolly Parton’s plaques hanging up on the wall, that’s all I could talk about -- Dolly! I want to make a record like her or Loretta Lynn. I wanted to make a hardcore country album," Pickler recalls. "That’s who I am . There’s one place that I’ve always known I wanted to be, and that is on country radio. I don’t give a damn about being on any other format’s station. I respect it, but it ain’t me. I am a diehard country music fan."

No word on where Pickler will land post Sony Nashville -- major label or independent -- but the 'Tough' singer says she is weighing her options. "[You want] to sign with someone that is about the music and gets you," Pickler says.

The 26-year-old country singer is currently on the road promoting '100 Proof,' with dates scheduled through the end of the year. Click here for tour dates and ticket information.