2016 is an exciting time to be a David Archuleta fan. The American Idol season 7 runner-up made his triumphant return earlier this year during the show’s series finale in the opening group number, and this summer he paired up with Jamesthemormon on a rap collaboration that was completely out of his wheelhouse, yet so much fun to see.
Now, Archuleta returns with the release of “Numb,” a song that came to him two years ago after returning from a mission trip to Chile. The song was written by Archuleta, Trent Dabbs and producer Jamie Kenney. The lyric video, directed by Tarek Kasmi, debuted Thursday (Nov. 3), with a full video on the horizon; the song is available Friday on iTunes and Spotify.
“It was during the time that I returned from my mission trip of two years in Chile. I was trying to get accustomed back to becoming a performer and an artist, and getting back into the whole business of it,” Archuleta tells Billboard. “It was hard and really challenging, and I was wondering if I even wanted to keep doing it, and I was having a really hard time. I was really missing Chile and doing something that really wasn’t about me. It was so much the opposite, and what can I do for other people and helping them in whatever way. I was just missing the people I was with.”
Archuleta wanted to give up, but he already had a writing session scheduled in Nashville, so he decided to push through and see what developed. He sat down with Dabbs and Kenney, who asked him, “What’s been on your mind?”
“I’ve learned that’s its really important to just always be honest, and I told them. I said, ‘You know, I just got back from Chile and it was an amazing experience. I loved being a missionary, and now I’m back here and I’ve been writing every month so far here in Nashville, and I don’t think I want to do this. I don’t think I even want to be here right now.’ I just kind of kept talking to them about it, and they were just staring at me listening, and one of them said, ‘Well, why don’t we write about that?'”
It was then that Archuleta was hit with inspiration. “It occurred to me that maybe I can actually write about what I’m really going through instead of teenage love songs because that’s what people want to hear,” he says. “That’s kind of how I’ve always been trained. It didn’t occur to me that I could write about what I was actually feeling, and we just started writing and that’s what came out of it.”
“Numb,” he says, was a result of the experience, which he described as “therapeutic.”
“It was so relieving. That’s all I needed to do,” he says. “I just needed to know I could be real with people. I needed to know I could be honest and talk about how I was really feeling at that time in my life. I feel like, as a musician, people want to feel a story. You know, there are songs that people want to have a good time — fun, summer songs. But I think a lot of other times, people do really want to connect with what’s coming from someone’s heart, from their soul, and what they’re going through. I feel like this was a song that was that for me.”
The Utah native says the floodgates are now open, and he has several songs close to completion. Whether that becomes an EP or a full album is still up in the air, but he says he may release more songs in the next couple of months.
“Every song has a story now, and it’s like, ‘OK, this is a piece of me,'” he says. “I love music, I’m a fan of music, but there’s also a deeper connection where I have let you into my life. I just want people to feel that. I want them to be able to connect to that same place.”
Archuleta is ready to connect this month with a Christmas tour, kicking off in Utah on Nov. 25 with Nathan Pacheo. A Christmas single, “My Little Prayer,” is set for release just in time for the holidays.
“I love Christmas,” he says. “I feel like a lot of Christmas songs are a prayer, because they’re talking about this special moment in Christian time, or Christ is born, and turning to him and thinking about who he is for us personally, each and every one, and the significance of that.”
Tickets for Archuleta’s Christmas tour are available through his website.
Watch the lyric video for “Numb” below: