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Article updated: 4/17/2013 11:10 AM

Lee DeWyze boasts new album, new label and a return to Viper Alley

By Kathleen Danes

Buoyed by a new single, a new label and a new album due out later this summer, Lee DeWyze can't help but hum with positivity.

The Mount Prospect native and Season 9 "American Idol" winner is in town Friday, April 19, for a sort of homecoming show at Lincolnshire's Viper Alley.

DeWyze helped open the venue in March 2011 and returned last year to celebrate the club's anniversary. He's thrilled to be back in the suburbs where he grew up, and he can't wait to play some of the music that will appear on his new album.

"It's a beautiful venue, it's really great," DeWyze said. "It's going to be a fun show."

He's been busy putting the finishing touches on his second post-"Idol" album, which will be released by Vanguard Records.

The first single, "Silver Lining," will be available digitally on June 11.

DeWyze said he expects the album to be out not too long afterward.

"Silver Lining" features a folksier, rawer sound than the varnished feel of "Live It Up," the album he released a few months after winning "Idol" in 2010.

Dewyze said "Silver Lining" was the perfect choice for his single, and it's a good representation of what to expect from the forthcoming album.

"It's very organic," DeWyze said. "The verses are more acoustic and lyrical.

"It also describes where I am right now. Without being too cheesy, I felt like this song and this album really were the silver linings of my career."

DeWyze had cut demo versions of "Fight" and "Silver Lining" and was shopping around labels when things instantly clicked.

Vanguard had an ethos that hewed closer to Dewyze's own musical vision.

He signed with them in January.

It's a fit he describes as natural. The fit with RCA wasn't.

"It feels really awesome," DeWyze said of his new label. "The difference is, Vanguard doesn't say we want it to sound like X, Y or Z. They have enough trust in me to say whatever you think, we'll like."

Dewyze said he even rejected a few labels because "we didn't just want to find someone who liked the record. Someone who would say we just want you because you won 'American Idol' and can sell records.

"We wanted to find someone who genuinely, genuinely believed in it."

He spent a year and a half making the record, a point he's careful to emphasize.

"I've been working very hard in the studio on this one," DeWyze said. "I've been co-producing and engineering this entire album."

He also plays piano, drums, guitar and even banjo on the new album, a choice spurred by a gift from his wife, Jonna.

"Jonna gave me my first banjo this past Christmas," he said. "There's a song on the new record called 'Like I Do' and I heard a banjo part. I learned it and went in the studio to record it. It was one of those moments where I figured out exactly what the song needed and was able to make it happen."

Of the 12 to 13 tracks he's planning on the album having, DeWyze said he completely wrote seven and has been involved in some way on all of them.

"To be able to say I've written or co-written every single song on the album is so exciting," Dewyze said. "I love telling stories through music."

The album will feature a reworked version of the song "Fight," which Dewyze released last year to support The Heart Foundation's One for the Heart campaign.

Fans can also look forward to bonus content in some form or fashion.

DeWyze says the album is about 80 percent done, but he's still tinkering with track selection and final recordings. He'll head back to the studio in the next few weeks to finish it up. After that, he's planning on expanding his national tour and doing lots of promotion to bolster the single and album.

As for an appearance on the show that launched DeWyze onto the national scene, he says "Idol" hasn't approached him about playing "Silver Lining" live. But if he were asked, he said, there's no way he would turn it down.

"We'd love to go back on 'Idol,'" DeWyze said. "But it's not something that we're banking on to launch this record."

In other words, DeWyze is grateful for "Idol's" exposure, but he's ready to chart his own course now.

"I'm just excited to take these songs out on the road and get going with this phase of my career."

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