Back in the spring of 2012, David Archuleta embarked on a two-year mission trip with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
During the time he spent in Chile, dedicated fans back in the U.S. — and there are lots of them — eagerly awaited his return and the new music that would follow.
But the truth is, David contemplated walking away from the music career that blossomed following Season 7 of American Idol.
“I felt I had discovered a new part of me as a missionary,” he told Idol Chatter. “When I came back to the music world, I felt the missionary self and the old self before my mission were clashing. I wasn’t either of them anymore, but I felt I had to still choose between the two of who I was now allowed to be.
“I needed time to learn I wasn’t entirely either of them anymore, yet both times were a part of me and it was up to me to decide this self I would create now moving forward.
“I still struggle with being motivated to move forward — I always have, with old me, missionary me, and current me — but part of this challenge to stay motivated to keep going is exactly what I’ve written about. That I don’t have to be invincible to keep trying and pushing forward.”
Fortunately for music fans, he did just that. Pushed forward musically. Because he just delivered his best project yet, his 16-track album entitled “Postcards in the Sky.”
The songs are as catchy as the pop hits he was known for in his post-Idol days. This time around, they’re also more endearing and heartfelt.
And in many cases, downright touching. Like “I’m Ready,” which David decided to end with tape recordings from a friend named Annie Schmidt, who helped inspire him to finish the song. He did that because the 21-year-old died in an accidental hiking accident before she could hear the final version.
You don’t get a song much more touching than that, but David comes close, many times over the 16 tracks. Another special treat is “Seasons,” a duet with Season 6 Voice standout Madilyn Paige that turned out as lovely as I expected it would when David first teased the song months ago.
Here’s what David told Idol Chatter about his new album.
Idol Chatter: Up until this year, you hadn’t released a major project since 2013. Now you’ve released two EPs and a 16-track album in a matter of months. Why so much new music so quickly?
David: The new EPs were songs that are included on the whole album. But as it is a whole project and phase I wanted to keep them together. Maybe so much so sudden after a drought is part of my disorganization and impatience showing. I tend to do be very impatient once I have what I want to get out.Idol Chatter: How would you compare the new music you’ve released this year with the music you released previously? Did you have a hand in writing the new material?
David: I was involved in writing every song and for the most part had the creative direction. Every story is my own thoughts, not someone else’s.
I felt with other albums I’ve done, I was more the interpreter, trying to put myself in other writer’s shoes or play the character I thought they wanted me to. I experimented being myself before like on the album “The Other Side of Down.”
But this time I challenged myself to completely be me and express what was in me.
Idol Chatter: How did the duet with (former Voice contestant) Madilyn Paige come about? It turned out wonderfully, by the way.
David: Thank you. I saw Madilyn’s videos and knew she lived close-ish to my family. I loved what she’s about and, when I listened to a video I came across, I thought her voice would go really well with the missing female part I needed in “Seasons.” She did a great job and I really enjoyed working with her
Idol Chatter: Is there an interesting story behind another of the previously unreleased tracks on the album you’d like to share?
David: “Upset With Me” is probably the most personal song. For a few months, I wasn’t going to put it on the album. I felt awkward showing such a vulnerable part of my life, but at the same time knew my goal was to be true about my weaknesses and my challenges.
I also felt it would be pointless as I’m not in that place anynore, but thought it would still be important to show a piece of my past and encourage people who may be in a place of abuse, whether emotional like in my case or physical, that they can find help and strength to escape and overcome. I have healed, I have become stronger, and I have power to speak up now.
Idol Chatter: Can you tell me about the song “Postcards in the Sky” and why you decided to make that the album’s title track?
Davdi: “Postcards in the Sky” was a song that was written as we were talking about hard things that happen one of the writers, Jeff Trott, had a niece that passed away when she was only 9 or 10 years old. At her funeral, in her honor, they released balloons with messages tied to it that were positive.
I loved that imagery and wondered who those messages would reach. I imagined they could have reached the heavens, or landed by someone who was having a hard day. I wondered what would happened if we let out what was deep inside our hearts more oftened. Let out what we keep inside whether to God, or to our friends, or to a stranger. How would it change us? Or change them? Thus “Postcards in the Sky” was written.
I made it the title track because I felt all these songs were my Postcards in the Sky. I hope they reach other people and can impact them to be better. To search within them and connect to what’s deep inside and then share it themselves. I hope they find who they are, find they are connected to something bigger than them and newfound strength to keep moving forward.
Editor’s Note: David is currently on tour in support of his new music. Check out all his tour dates here.