He fulfilled part of that promise Friday, releasing another four-song EP called “Leo.”
It features “I’m Ready,” one of the best songs we’ve gotten from David since his second-place finish on Season 7 of American Idol. It features “Spotlight Down,” a heartfelt ballad. And it features two more upbeat songs, “Other Things In Sight” and “Someone to Love.”
What it doesn’t feature is a single weak track, a tribute to David’s growing maturity as an artist.
David talked about the project during a Facebook live chat with fans, explaining the name of the EP, the writing process for his new music and sharing the inspiration behind some of the songs.
Now 26, David says he decided to name his EPs after constellations because “this phase of my life is all about looking up.” He especially liked Leo because he likes the aura of the tiger — tough, but not overly aggressive.
The former teen heartthrob admits during the chat that he felt like it took him a long time to find himself as an artist, to start acting like an adult in control of his own destiny while the grown-ups around him “treated me like a kid.”
David said he returned from a mission trip to Chile a couple of year ago with a new perspective on life and his music.
“This Leo EP, a lot of the messages are stronger,” he explains. “I’m taking control of my own life. I’m stronger. But it doesn’t mean I have to be all loud and aggressive and obnoxious about it.”
As for the writing process, David said he recalls the post-Idol days when he was always being encouraged to record songs with the hottest producers, when he was always in search of the next big smash hit on radio.
“This time,” he said, “instead of being so caught up in trying to be the big shot, the hit master, the most popular artist out there, it’s about being myself. If it’s taking the risk of not having as cool (of a) hit song, so be it.”
That’s the theme behind the EP-ending “Spotlight Down,” David pointed out.
“Turn the spotlight down,” he said. “That’s not what it’s about right now. I tried that. It wasn’t making me happy. I was feeling really empty … I wanted to have a project where I could just be who I am.”
That’s sorta also the theme of “I’m Ready,” which has the most touching backstory of the songs on the EP.
David says he started writing the song before he went on his mission trip. But he was having trouble finishing it. He finally did, with the help and inspiration of a friend, Annie Schmidt.
Unfortunately, she never got to hear the final version. She went missing while hiking in Oregon last October. Her body was found several weeks later at the bottom of a cliff. She was 21 at the time of her death.
It’s her voice you hear at the end of the track.
“I had a recording of her as she was helping me go through ideas, and that’s who you hear at the end of the song,” David says. “I felt like this was the best way I could pay tribute to her and keep her legacy moving forward.”
Oh, and here’a bit of irony. David, in his efforts not to focus on making hits, is back on the iTunes charts. In fact, for an independent release, “Leo” is making one heck of a splash on those charts.
Twenty-four hours after its release, the EP was number seven on the iTunes pop albums chart and number 55 overall. Today at noon, it was still in the Top 10 on the pop albums chart.
David is currently touring in support of his new music, and his tour will include stops in Sellersville, Pa., and Pittsburgh next month. You can check out all the tour dates on his Facebook page.
Meanwhile, check out this brilliant live performance of “I’m Ready.”