'Idol' finalist Casey Abrams strives for the 'Simple Life'
"Don't need no TV, I don't need no phone. Don't need a speedy car to get me home ... put down the laptop and get out of that house, don't need nothing all I need is time — for the simple life."
The lyrics — off the first track of "American Idol" finalist Casey Abrams' self-titled debut album — urge listeners to set aside the distractions and take a look at what's in front of them.
It's called "Simple Life." These days, Abrams' life is anything but.
Abrams, a one-time resident of Wilmette and native of Austin, Texas, released his album on Tuesday and is looking ahead to a tour. He's also trying to take better care of himself and spread the word about ulcerative colitis, the inflammatory bowel disease that landed him in the hospital during his run last year on "Idol."
"People tiptoe around it because it's embarrassing," Abrams admitted. "It's a disease that's gross and has to do with your colon, but it's something 1.4 million people suffer from, and someone you know could have it."
Abrams even created a song and music video at www.ibdicons.com to help raise support and awareness for those who suffer from ulcerative colitis and other inflammatory bowel diseases. By becoming a fan, $1 is donated to the Crohns & Colitis Foundation of America.
After finishing in sixth place on "Idol," Abrams spent some time touring with other fellow finalists, and formed a tight bond with Wheeling native and third place finalist Haley Reinhart.
Together they recorded and released a duet cover of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" for the holiday season, which they performed at the Festival of Lights in Chicago. Reinhart returns with Abrams on his record; together they sing a cover of Ray Charles' "Hit the Road Jack."
"Haley is a good friend, and a relationship that needs to happen, because it's nice to have someone familiar in the studio when you're surrounded by people you don't know," Abrams said.
The new album, put out through the Concord Music Group label, was recorded in London and led by executive producer Randy Jackson, one of the "Idol" judges. His producers — Steve Jordan, Martin Terefe and Rune Westberg — have worked with past "Idol" contestants Daughtry and Adam Lambert, as well as artists like John Mayer and KT Tunstall.
Abram's musical style combines pop with smooth jazz and a bit of blues. Abrams himself is skilled with more than a dozen instruments, and they are all featured — including his signature stand-up bass.
His musical influences cover a wide spectrum, including The Beatles, Ray Charles and James Brown.
When asked what his favorite track was on the album, Abrams named "Stuck in London" because it featured one of his favorite instruments: the recorder.
"I like the recorder so much because it reminds me of being a kid, learning how to play music for the first time, and it's so recognizable," he said.
Abrams said he's planning a tour for the album's release. "I'll probably be traveling around, showing up at random places, playing some street corners and clubs," Abrams said. "I like places where you can hear and see the performers up close, and I like giving people a raw performance and not standing up on a stage."
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