ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

Return to Lee DeWyze

Lee DeWyze feels 'free to do whatever I want' with his new music

Singer-songwriter Lee DeWyze is gearing up for his next studio album, the follow-up to 2016’s “Oil & Water,” with something he says will be darker than anything he has done before.

“Darker” isn’t a word one associates with “American Idol” winners.

“I think my new music is a little darker overall because of the content and the instrumentation at times,” DeWyze says. He sought a new vibe because he says he never wants to be bored as a singer-songwriter.

“The music is different, the decisions I’m making in the studio are different and the production is different,” he says. “But it still feels like me. And there’s a real honesty to this record that comes through in the lyrics.”

+3  
Lee DeWyze

Lee DeWyze. Photo by Sasch Knopf

He says the music won’t be as acoustic-driven as his last album, and he’ll explore sounds under the “indie folk rock” banner.

“I feel free to do whatever I want to do. That freedom comes from not allowing those around me to dictate what type of music I’m going to make,” says DeWyze, who no longer has record company executives demanding the next top 40 hit, as he did a few years ago.

A song slated for the upcoming album is his current single “The Breakdown,” a good indicator of the direction he’s headed.

+3  
'The Breakdown'

"The Breakdown"

For him, the song came naturally.

“When I was writing it, it started to flow really well,” he says. “I wasn’t stuck on it for a while. I had the idea, and I went for it.”

DeWyze says the song explores the emotions one may experience when they fear losing someone important.

He’s about 85 percent finished with the album, he says, though “when I think I got them picked out, there’s another idea, another thing. But it’s almost where I know what it’s going to be and look like and feel like.”

Since winning Season 9 of “American Idol” in 2010, DeWyze has found an unexpected path in the area of music placement and licensing. The biggest was landing his “Blackbird Song” on a Season 4 episode of “The Walking Dead.” His music has since been heard on “Elementary,” “Suits,” “Nashville,” “Reign,” “Hart of Dixie” and more TV shows.

“There’s no right or wrong way of getting your music out there,” DeWyze says. “I’m proud and honored by the different ways of connecting with fans.”

He says it was “Blackbird Song” that first allowed people to see who he really is — the artist he was before “American Idol.”

“It opened the door for a wider audience of people to see what I’m about. Now people are saying, ‘Oh, he’s a songwriter.’ I worked very hard the past few years really getting myself out there and representing myself the proper way as a songwriter first and foremost.”

Helping his songwriting side flourish is a new publishing deal with SONGS (home to Lorde, the Weeknd and Diplo). The right publishing deal is something he says he always wanted.

“There’s a lot of different places you can go — a lot of different companies,” he says. “We were talking to plenty of them, but at the end of the day, SONGS is the right place because they put songs first and songwriters first, and it was a nice fit from the beginning.”

+3  
Lee DeWyze

Lee DeWyze during the "American Idol" season nine finale in 2010.


What Lee DeWyze • When 8 p.m. Friday • Where The Monocle, 4510 Manchester Avenue • How much $15-$18 • More info ticketfly.com