Hear 'American Idol' Alums Casey Abrams & Haley Reinhart Duet on 'Never Knew What Love Can Do'

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Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart

The song will be included on Abrams' forthcoming sophomore album, 'Tales From the Gingerbread House.'

Casey Abrams was out playing a gig when he was approached by some women of a certain age who introduced themselves as "Casey's Cougars."

"That’s their name," says the American Idol Season 10 Alum. "That’s what they call themselves."

The conversation inspired the multi-instrumentalist to do the natural thing: create music. "I had to turn it into a song," he said.

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That song -- "Cougartown" -- became a part of Abrams' live show, and the crowd reaction to that and other new compositions gave the singer the itch to finally record a follow-up to his 2012 self-titled release through Concord Records.

To make that a reality, Abrams launched a PledgeMusic.com campaign that boasts some cool incentives, including a private living-room concert with the Idol. The record -- titled Tales From the Gingerbread House -- also features a sexy duet with fellow season 10 alum Haley Reinhart and is slated for a Jan. 29 release. 

"It’s been too long, and I was with a major record company for a couple of years after Idol," he tells Billboard. "During that time, I wanted to make a second album, but I was too busy thinking about other things, and other things got in the way."

Abrams got back into the studio with his touring group, the Gingerbread Band, to lay down some tracks. With five songs complete, Abrams -- backed by Taylor Tesler on guitar, Quinton Zigler on trombone, Enrique Lara on percussion, Zack Lodmer on clarinet and Jacob Scesney on tenor sax. "We had been going around playing my first album, but in our way of doing it with horn parts that wasn’t [on the record]," he said. "But then we started to do new songs, and we didn’t have a record for the new songs. So I wanted to have a definitive version of these songs we play live all the time."

Funding his own project, he said, will help preserve the truth in his musical output. "I really like doing stuff for myself and making all the calls and doing it exactly the way I want to do as opposed to someone investing money. You can’t get all your artistry out because that is all of their money on the line," he said. "I want to make it my way and then it will be complete artistry. It will be complete, and exactly the way I want it -- straight from the heart."

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Fans of the singer will be happy to see that Abrams enlisted his Idol soulmate Reinhart for two songs. She can be heard on background vocals for "Cougartown" and is featured on the duet "Never Knew What Love Can Do." The duet is one the pair has performed live before, and the recorded version captures the sexy, funky vibe of the song. "I had shown her that song before. I showed her the demo, and she was like, ‘I really like this song.'  We had been doing it live, where she takes the second verse," he said. "She came to the studio. She was so ready.”

The pair recorded the slow-burner the day after they laid down the final version of "Can't Help Falling in Love With You" for the Extra gum commercial. The Idyllwild, Calif., singer said the pair's easy relationship made it possible to record so quickly. "We are comfortable with each other. It’s just that we know each other so well, and we can hang out with each other and we’re very open to new things and new ideas," he said. "We like some of the same music. We have similar voices that are not as pristine but a little more gritty and rough, which we both love.”

Abrams said neither he nor Reinhart had any idea that the Extra gum commercial would take off the way it did, and on the last day of recording the song, there were "so many people there with cameras and producers and mixers, I realized, 'Whoa, this is a serious commercial.'"

"It was really cool to play for all those people. I just saw the commercial the other day on TV in the hotel room, and thought, yeah, this is awesome!" he said. "That’s my friend singing!"

The two are such good friends, Reinhart's parents make it a point to see the 24-year-old musician even when their daughter isn't around. "Sometimes her parents come to my shows when she’s not there but to see me, which is really nice," he said. "I remember every time I would play "Cougartown," Haley’s mom would get up and wave at me with a big smile on her face."

Abrams is currently on the road with Reinhart and fellow Idol alumni Joey Cook and Blake Lewis as part of the Postmodern Jukebox tour. 

Listen to "Never Knew What Love Can Do" below: