Style: Laidback songwriter pop; compare to Kris Allen, Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz
Top tracks: "Let's Just Fall in Love Again," "You Can Always Come Home," "Hallelujah"
Since making an impression on American Idol's Season 7 with his authentic demeanor and self-accompanied pop songs, Jason Castro has been honing his craft by collaborating with some of the music biz's most seasoned songwriters in preparation for his full-length debut. But it is the self-taught singer/guitarist's relaxed grooves and niche performance style that grants his set list of mostly love songs (Castro got married in January) extra punch. From the opening track's infectious whistles to Leonard Cohen's sweetly somber "Hallelujah," Castro has constructed a record perfect for sunshine drive time as well as rainy day reflection. (This is just an 8-song album; longer versions, such as this 14-song exclusive at Amazon, include his other Idol highlight, "Over the Rainbow.")1