Billboard -- "American Idol" alum Jason Castro is counting down the days until the January 15 release of his new album, "Only A Mountain."
"It's been quite some time since my debut came out, so I'm anxiously looking forward to it," Castro tells Billboard. "I remember that in the beginning when we started writing and recording it, I thought 'Is this really going to happen? Are we really going to do this?' I'm so excited. It's all kind of surreal, in a way."
Castro explains that many of the tracks on the new disc represent a growth and maturity of his personal life over the past few years. "I think a good portion of the album has been directly influenced or inspired by family life, and things that have gone on the past few years. It's definitely a snapshot of the last few years of my life. I hope they inspire people in their own journeys."
The title track of the disc serves as the first single, and Castro explains that's no coincidence. "We picked that song because that's the overall message that we wanted to impart. That's one of the biggest lessons I have learned over the last few years - realizing that the struggles or problems I have faced, are so small in the big scheme of things. But, it's all about having faith, and waiting it out. Things always get better. One of my favorite quotes I've heard - and I don't know who said it, was 'Everything will be ok, and if it's not ok, it's not the end.' I've said that quote a lot over the years, and I feel the song catches that spirit."
That spirit can be felt in the powerful video for the song, which features many shots of what has become a trademark for the singer - his smile. "That's kind of a bad habit for me," he laughs. "I'm always smiling. I guess it's just the most natural space for me. There's always something to smile about, I do believe, and we had a lot of fun in making the album. I got to be creative in other ways besides music in the video -- we did a lot with paint and chalk in it. I really enjoyed it."
In addition to the album, Castro plans to rack up the miles on the road to promote it. "2013 is going to be a great year. I start on a tour called Winterjam in January, and there are a lot of tour plans going on right now beyond that. It's always exciting to get out there with new music. Being out there, and connecting with fans in a live setting is one of my favorite parts of being an artist."
The Texan is proud of his association with Nashville-based Word -- one of the biggest Christian music companies in the world. "It's been a great partnership," he states. "I had worked with them for over a year on a trial run before we made the album together, so I knew from the beginning that Word was the right place to be. I feel so greatly supported there, and that my artistry is very nurtured there."
Of course, as an "American Idol" alum, we couldn't let him get away without asking his opinion concerning the next season and the new judges. "Time will tell," he says. "I'm always eager to watch for the talent, but I have heard a lot of opinions on the judges. Personally, I am a big Keith Urban fan, so I think I am really going to enjoy him. I thought that Steven Tyler was a really cool addition to the show last year, and I think Keith will be very much like that."
On January 16, fans can join him for "An Evening with Jason Castro Benefitting MusiCares' Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund" in New York City. The event will include an acoustic set by the singer featuring his new music and a special viewing party for the premiere of the 12th Season of "American Idol" on FOX. At the start of the year, Castro is set to embark on Winter Jam Tour Spectacular, the world's No. 1 tour (first quarter), alongside headliner TobyMac.
"An Evening with Jason Castro Benefitting MusiCares' Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund" will take place on January 16 at Rockwood Music Hall in New York City. Castro will kick off the event with a 45-minute acoustic set with music from the new album. Then, fans will have the opportunity to watch the new season of "American Idol" with the former contestant.
A limited number of tickets are available here. Proceeds benefit the MusiCares' Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund.
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