The beauty of American Idol — other than seeing untalented people being made fools of in each season's initial episodes — is that it affords aspiring singers the ability to get noticed. In such a hard-to-even-get-through-the-door kind of industry, just mentioning your name on this show can be a big boost.
For season seven, early-round send-off, Josiah Leming, such exposure worked, but only on his terms. Series producers recognized his talents, but Leming soon realized that the show was merely "gloried karoake" and that if he really wanted to make his own music, he could no longer do so on American Idol.
While the details of the fallout are sketchy, the Tennessee native's dreams are coming to fruition with the release of his debut EP, Angels Undercover.
One of nine children, Leming dropped out of high school at 17 to pursue a career in music, for which he has no regrets. "It's the only thing I want to do," he states in a press release. "I'd rather die in a ditch somewhere than not be able to make music. There are no other options for me. Music is my way of getting things out. It has saved my life many times."
Leming's EP teaser reveals the moodiness and rebelliousness that he felt during his life growing up in rural Morristown, Tennessee. He externalizes much of this pent-up rage and any feelings of inadequacy in the anthem, "Theysay," with satisfactory softness at first, but which later yields to fuming explosion as he repeats, "They can burn in hell."
One of the continual battles Leming fights is whether to convey his confused emotions either passively or aggressively. The pseudo-ballad, "This Cigar," divulges the alternative road many of us go down to fight or indulge our personal demons, through the inhales and exhales of cigarettes or the sips and gulps of alcohol. Those might seem like easy or clichéd solutions, but the alternatives ("To Run") aren't so attractive either.
It's unfortunate that Leming had to live with such hardships, but his situation isn't all that different from millions of others. Fortunately for Leming, he found the one outlet from which he could escape those pains and help others in their search for a way out.
The semi-autobiographical title track bares his life in a brief but passionate nutshell as his struggles with his family and his faith are there for all to see. It's quite discomforting to hear such distress ("There's a place that's filled with flames / And it's calling out my name / 'Cause I don't believe in heaven"), but there is solace in knowing that Leming has found his voice.