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Looking back on the inaugural season of X Factor, Josh Krajcik says he sensed right away that he wasn’t the typical TV singing competition contestant. “I didn’t really fit in,” reflects the Wooster, Ohio native. “A lot of people were like, ‘Why is he on a show like this?’ I think it kind of helped me in a way. I have a lot of fans who say they never watched those shows before, but tell me, ‘You are the reason I watched.'”
After a long run on the Fox series, making it all the way to second place, the former burrito-maker with the soulful, Joe Cocker-esque vocals and humble disposition is finally releasing his debut album, Blindly, Lonely, Lovely on Tuesday via BMG. Some 18 months after first gracing the X Factor stage, Krajcik couldn’t be more excited.
“It would have been great to get it out sooner but sometimes things happen for a reason,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “The most exciting part for me is to have people finally hear it.”
Blindly, Lonely, Lovely is a soulful R&B record, chock full of horns, strings, and Krajcik’s rich supple vocals enveloping words of love. His warm tone and earnest delivery also weaves in elements of jazz.
Krajcik shuttled between Los Angeles and London to put the final touches on the album, whose title functions as a summation of his experiences in making the record.
“When I jumped into it, I was blindly jumping in, because some of it I was recording in L.A. some of it I was recording in London,” he said. “Then, I was meeting my co-writers for the first time. The single, ‘Back Where We Belong,’ was written with Steve Robson and a guy named Joel Pott and I had never met these guys. So I was alone in a strange city blindly making my first record and trying to make something really great.”
Alas, commitments in the States prevented the singer from visiting the famed Abbey Road studios, where many of the string arrangements were arranged, but he was there in spirit, thanks to producer Eg White, who produced and co-wrote the songs “Nothing” and “Don’t Make Me Hopeful.”
“He sent me the videos of the sessions, so I got to be there in spirit,” he said. “I was bummed that I couldn’t be there, but it was still a pretty amazing moment to watch those videos of Abbey Road.”
Kracjik co-wrote many of the songs with a stable of writers including White (Florence +The Machine), Julian Bunetta (Leona Lewis), Andrew Frampton (Natasha Beddingfield, The Script), Chris Seefried (Fitz & The Tantrums, Haley Reinhart), Steve Kipner (Christina Aguilera, 98 Degrees) and Robson (Rascal Flatts, Take That). Many of the themes explore romance and matters of the heart, but everybody has a dark side, and Kracjik has no trouble delving into his when he’s composing.
“I tend to do that when I write. I don’t know what it is. I think it interests me more to explore things that are difficult from an emotional standpoint,” he says. “So often love songs are sort of predictable content-wise. It’s not autobiographical. It’s just easy to relate to some of those stories.”
Take, for instance, “One Thing She’ll Never Know.” At first listen, Krajcik seems to be singing to the one he loves, but then it takes a sharp left turn revealing that he can’t let go of a past lover.
Says Krajcik: “I think what’s interesting is the more difficult parts of love affairs because it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. I want to write from an honest standpoint, not necessarily a truth or something that’s happened to me, but an emotional truth. … I like to try to write stuff that’s not straightforward.”
Sources of inspiration were musical, as well. “The Remedy,” for instance, a soulful romp augmented by horns, was born after a loose session in the wee morning hours. “We were partying in the studio until 5 a.m. when we laid that down,” he says. “It started out as a jam session.”
“No Better Lovers” is somewhat of an oddity on the record. A sweet romantic ballad set against a backdrop of acoustic guitar, Krajcik boasts that the track is “a breath of fresh air” and in “its own lane.” Says Krajcik: “It’s a little, light, earnest love song in the middle of these big subjects. It reminded me of summer camp and first crushes and being a teenager again. It’s not heavy subject matter, it’s just an easy thing to listen to on a nice summer day.”
Speaking of his X Factor experience, Krajcik says the show had its perks: he hooked up his 14-year old daughter and her friend with great seats for X Factor UK grads One Direction back in December.
“I was Dad of the Year for a little bit at least,” he laughs. “Her mom went with her and sent me a video as the show was opening — it was just priceless.”
Indeed, Krajcik gets the importance of influences. As a teen, he was a huge fan of metal bands, citing Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pantera as his own personal heroes. When Dave Grohl approved the use of Foo Fighters “The Pretender” on X Factor, says Krajcik, “it was a special moment.”
As for coming thisclose to X Factor‘s $5 million prize? Krajcik says it was almost a “relief” not to win, although the “bread would have been nice.” Still, he adds, “I don’t regret anything. I’ve been able to have complete freedom creatively and that to me is priceless.”
Watch an exclusive clip of Josh Krajcik performing “Close Your Eyes” acoustic below:
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