It's been a while since America has seen Matt Giraud. The JT-like soul man who was a wild card "American Idol" finalist and recipient of last season's controversial judges' save has been working hard off-the-radar since his fifth-place finish on season eight.
Since his "Idol" run ended, Giraud's been writing songs in Nashville for his debut album, working with such well-known songwriters as Marcus Hummon (Rascal Flatts, Dixie Chicks) and Monty Powell (Keith Urban). "I'm not really going country," he told MTV News last month, "but they appreciate soul down there and I've been playing with them and making great music." So far, he's recorded 15 songs, many of which he co-wrote, and is hoping to amass at least 30 before he starts shopping an album around.
First he plans to release an EP sometime later this year to capitalize on the buzz he's gotten since notching a #1 hit on the iTunes jazz chart with Nashville singer Anna Wilson on "You Don't Know Me." He also made his triumphant return to the "Idol" stage during Thursday night's elimination show, teaming up with fellow finalist Scott MacIntyre on a spirited dueling piano cover of Billy Joel's "Tell Her About It."
"I'm just learning the craft of songwriting," Giraud said of the writers he's been working with in Nashville and Los Angeles, including Leah Haywood, who wrote "Pieces" for Allison Iraheta's debut album. He was also planning on hooking up with singer/songwriter Graham Colton, whose "Best Days" has been featured on "Idol," and which Giraud sang when he made it to Hollywood during season eight.
"For them, it's their job," he said. "One day they're working with John Legend and Carrie Underwood and the next they're with me. They know I don't have a big record deal, but they want to work with me because they see something in me."
For now, the singer who made his bones with his smooth blue-eyed soul style, said he's putting together an arsenal of songs that will hopefully surprise his fans, including some of his signature soul, plus some bluesier numbers, a few Maroon 5-style pop tunes and a handful of tracks that mine the Legend vein of buttery R&B.
"Every time I work with a new writer something different comes out," he said, describing the overarching sound as "soulful rock." He hasn't signed a label deal yet, but there's been some interest and for now he said he's just taking his time and playing live shows in between studio sessions.