Last time, it's Brooke White who's preparing an album. Now, it's another one from the seventh season of American Idol: Michael Johns is gearing up to release Hold Back My Heart, his first album before joining the singing competition--and finishing eighth--last year.
Twelve tracks form the album, six of which he co-wrote, with is acclaimed songwriter Diane Warren and British singer-songwriter James Morrison also pitching in some lyrics. His early exit from the show proved beneficial to him, as he immediately plunged into working for this album.
"I'd been signed before," Johns explained. "My albums have always been shelved, or the label folded, or the guy that signed me got fired. ... This time around, I wanted to go and make the record, own the masters, and whatever happened, it was going to be on my terms, my shoulders. You make enough money from being on the tour and being on the show, where I could fund the record. I knew what I wanted to do soundwise."
He only looked for a record label after he wrapped up recording in late 2008. "I didn't want to just go with any old deal," he said. "I really wanted to find a family that I thought believed in the direction of my record." He ended up with TRP Records, who has worked with Kelis, Lil Kim, and fellow Idol contestant Elliott Yamin.
Johns, who is planning to tour to promote the album, is seeking to distance himself from the usual pop that other Idol contestants release. His album is somewhat similar to Ray LaMontagne and James Blunt, two singer-songwriters whose soulful voices, guitar skills and touching lyrics get them through. "I was someone that already had a career before," he said. "For me, I was able to come in there and use it as a full platform. I knew what kind of record I was going to make and who I wanted to appeal to."