Miley Cyrus has always been “out front” with herself and her music, and she's never been shy with self-expression. In a very raw Billboard feature, the singer-songwriter is still all-Miley, holding on to her affinity for a certain four-letter word, but reflecting much more deeply the roots of her upbringing, and why they matter. Part of the grounding that Miley Cyrus has regained springs from her restored relationship with Liam Hemsworth, but it didn't just happen. It took real effort to “re-fall” for each other again, and Miley insists that her recent moves for clean living came easy.

Her upcoming new song, “Malibu,” came like an instant of pure inspiration by her love for Hemsworth, and everyone will hear for themselves on May 11. Her focus in life and song is directed at love, and leaving hate behind—and with much less twerking.

More heart, less hemp and tongue

Miley Cyrus has often admitted that her “tongue-out” stances of countless red carpets were defenses against intrusive cameras, and more intrusive requests from photographers to “blow a kiss.” “That's not me,” Cyrus insists, describing the camera hogs with her choice word, “I didn't know what to do with my face, so I just stuck my tongue out,” and became the punk-rock princess of rebellion. In real life, Miley Cyrus has always remained close to her parents and family, still maintaining a home near her mom, and supporting sister, Noah, 17, who is breaking out in pop.

She surmises that little sister wouldn’t see a problem with her 2013 MTV Music Video Awards performance with Robin Thicke that so branded her persona. Miley Cyrus has always incorporated the scope of humanity in both strong and understated ways, whether by using Twitter for her call of inclusion and love in defense of LGBTQ community needs and issues or putting dancers of all ethnicities on stage with her.

Her new music simultaneously harkens to her roots as goddaughter of Dolly Parton and childhood student of Waylon Jennings in learning guitar, and remains fervent in echoing the need for compassion and connection, because “clearly unity is what we need.” Her album collection is a way of “giving the world a hug,” with a “we're good” sense and the hope that “you can say you love me back.” Those kinds of encounters happen often on her grocery store trips.

“Malibu” opens as an honest look into its writer’s changing heart.

One thing Miley Cyrus claims is “easy” to leave behind because she wanted to is cannabis. “I haven't smoked weed in three weeks,” she affirms in the interview, remarking that that is her longest period without the substance. “I'm not drinking. I'm completely clean. “ She relates that this time of cessation “for a second” is part of her drive to be around people “that make me want to get better, more evolved.” Her love with Liam has evolved, too, as the couple learned to allow her needed changes, and still stay united. “We had to re-fall for each other.”

Dad approved

Miley's dad, singer and actor, Billy Ray Cyrus, decidedly puts his stamp of approval on her new music, whether it's deemed political or not.

What the music reflects is depth, both artistically and personally in his daughter. “This is Miley leaning into her roots more than I've ever heard, “ says Cyrus senior. “For her, this is honest, “and Dad delights in how the eclectic style from acoustic “roots” to pop puts her vocal prowess on a pedestal. This album will have to reach listeners in more intimate ways, as Miley concedes, “I don't even listen to it anymore,” referring to radio. Fortunately, she will be returning to “The Voice,” and her fans always find her. The affection is entirely mutual