NORTHAMPTON — It's been just over a decade since singer-songwriter David Archuleta took the "American Idol" stage during Season 7. It was 2007, and at age 16, he was one of the youngest finalists during that season, wowing the audience with his touching cover of John Lennon's "Imagine," and garnering the support of tens of millions from "Archie" fans. His voice has matured since then, and he has too, persevering through a share of bumps and ruts along the way.
On Saturday night at 7, fans can hear for themselves his stories about letting go of the past and finding hope in the future when he plays an intimate show at Iron Horse Music Hall to promote his new album, "Postcards in the Sky." Two new tracks from this recording, "Invincible" and "Up All Night," have already garnered more than a million views on Archuleta's official YouTube channel, while a third song, "Numb" is already at 1.9 million views and counting, meaning that this musician has enduring connecting power with his audiences years beyond his first pop hit, "Crush."
"My goal is [for my music] to be authentic and to be real," said Archuleta in a phone interview with The Eagle earlier this month.
The longtime Utah resident called in from his current residence in Nashville, Tenn., and talked about coming into his own sense of being, and "being OK not being perfect" and how that's influenced his music and performance style.
"As I get older, I get more into my own skin," said Archuleta, who turned 28 back in December.
"You don't have to be perfect or invincible and you can still connect with people," he said. "I've always been happy I can show all of me on the stage."
During his "Idol" years though, there was a caveat, a sense of having to live up to standards and spotlights he wasn't exactly comfortable with.
"It can be exhilarating and exciting in front of a large audience, you feel that power and energy which sometimes can be overwhelming. I feel like I'm sensitive to people and energy," Archuleta said.
After a big performance, he said he prefers to "go and be completely alone, even if it's a minute," to relax, but in the former part of his career, the industry could barely afford him that minute to spare.
So in March of 2012, Archuleta left the commercial music industry to get back to his roots as a Mormon, serving a two-year mission trip in Chile through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"I completely took a break and now I have a new perspective on life," he said.
Archuleta said his song "Numb" from "Postcards in the Sky," is a reflection of that trip and coming back into his music career.
"Whenever I get ready for the next phase of my career, this fear comes," he said. "I had to convince myself this was going to make me happy."
Archuleta also then realized that the emotions that were coming up were also things he could write about.
"There's a heavy place in my heart singing it, but I love it," he said.
In the past couple of years, Archuleta has found his way into therapy and making time to find support for himself through friends, family and faith. Asked what else he enjoys, he said, "I love to go out and eat and looking for something on Yelp. I love visiting people. I love being a storyteller, but I love hearing other people's stories."
The multicultural singer, whose Honduran mother has roots in salsa, also shares his lighter side in the new album's popular cut, "Up All Night," with a video that also showcases some of his Latin dance moves.
"I went over to a friend's house and met their family. They were really accepting and made me feel part of the family. We went fishing in and explored the countryside, it was great. I had been super depressed but I found in my answer just going to my friend's house. I was up all night because I couldn't sleep because I was having fun. I was happy," he said.
Archuleta, it seems, is no one's idol now. He's comfortable just being himself, for himself, and inviting others to join him.
He said he's grateful to all his supporters who have stuck with him and hopes his new album inspires others "to let their voice be heard, let them know they can trust in themselves. We all have things we don't like about (our)selves and that's OK. Those parts of us, it's what makes us human and what makes people drawn to us."