Josh Krajcik

A soulful singer with a huge, often gravelly voice, Josh Krajcik is best known as the runner-up on season one of Fox's reality singing competition The X Factor in 2011.

When he was just 16-years-old, Josh Krajcik schemed his way onto the stage of a bar near his hometown of Wooster, Ohio. Earning $100 for his four-hour debut gig, the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist decided that night to devote his life to making music. Over the next 14 years, Krajcik fronted a host of musical projects and eventually founded the Josh Krajcik Band, a three-piece blues-rock outfit that toured with the likes of Corinne Bailey Rae and The Fray and appeared on the Bonnaroo Music Festival's 2006 lineup. But by 2011 Krajcik was fighting to sustain his music career, and ended up taking a job at a burrito joint to make ends meet. On a whim, Krajcik then auditioned for The X Factor USA—and soon found himself wowing audiences with his gravelly-rich voice and stirring delivery on the show's premiere season. Now, Krajcik is set to release his full-length album Blindly, Lonely, Lovely that pair his powerful vocals with intensely passionate, soul-infused songwriting.

"More than anything, I wanted this music to be honest," says Krajcik of his debut releases. Instinct has also played a key role in guiding Krajcik through the ups and downs of his early career. "Over the years I definitely had a few of those moments where you're doubting yourself and you wonder, "Should I just give it all up?'" Krajcik admits. "But at the same, I really don't know what else I could have tried to be." So while holding to the promise he made himself at sixteen yielded its share of struggle, Krajcik asserts that those tough times have more than paid off. "The day after I finished the sessions for 'Nothing' and 'Don't Make Me Hopeful,' I was walking around Hammersmith, just sort smiling to myself and thinking about the songs and my music in general," he recalls. "After a while I looked up and realized I didn't know where I was. I'd gotten so caught up in thinking about where I was now—compared to just about a year before, when I was jumping from couch to couch and making burritos to pay rent—that I'd ended up completely lost in the middle of London. It was a great moment." Still, Krajcik asserts that his ultimate goal is to continue expanding his sound and delving more deeply into his songwriting. "The most important thing for me is to just keep on pushing myself as a singer and songwriter and musician," says Krajcik, "since I know that this is what I'm going to be doing forever."

Russell Stafford

Russell is an Australian-born singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist living in Portland, Oregon.

Since releasing his first album, Russell has toured and performed with artists such as Augustana, Tyrone Wells, Andrew Belle, Russell Crowe, SafetySuit, GoRadio, Mat Kearney, Matt White, Brendan James, Tom Curren, and countless independent bands, racking up in excess of 1500 concerts.

Russell is also co-frontman for the danceable alt/rock band Crown Point, releasing two albums since the bands inception in 2010. Russell has been relentlessly touring the US, Australia, and Canada for three years with the band.

During those three years, he wrote dozens of songs that didn't fit the rock style of Crown Point, and in the spring of 2012, hit the studio to record what would become his third solo album, A Silent Storm.

A follow-up to 2005's Freshwater and 2008's Between U&I, A Silent Storm is a brave departure from not only Crown Point, but all of his previous solo work.

"The message of this album is self-discovery and learning how to truly be honest with myself. If I had to really boil it down to one thing, this album is about finding the love of being in our own skin," he says after much pondering. "It's about struggle, finding meaning, and finding resolve in things we often go through alone.”

Summing up the record with one lyric, the line "take me as I am, flawed and out of plan," from the song "Queen Without A Land," the writing and making of the record was very cathartic for Russell.

"I think that everyone can associate with simply wanting to be loved and valued for who they are in their most honest state," Stafford states, discussing the lyric in question and the album's theme as a whole. "Our society puts so much emphasis on being perfect. Looking perfect, acting perfect, saying the right thing every time, being what some TV show or movie or magazine says we should be. Deep down though, we all want to be ourselves and be loved for it. None of us are perfect in the way that seems to be so highly valued by pop culture, but we’re all special and unique, and that in itself is perfect."

It was the "take me as I am" mentality that helped Stafford strip himself of the pop expectations and the commercial pressures he had previously placed on himself, and helped him make a better record as a result of it, a record that is honest from the first until the last note. It was also this attitude that helped him step away from his rock band and write for himself, not a band.

Opening with "We," Stafford lays it all on the line, delivering a short, not even two minute acoustic guitar-and-piano ballad that instantly lets you know this is Stafford at his rawest, his voice seeping with honesty, and the melody as direct and see-through as there is. Following it with the catchy "Waiting In Bed," an alt. country ditty in the vein of Ryan Adams.

"Just Like You" recalls Amos Lee or Jim Bianco, with its late-night jazz-pop verses and hook-laden chorus. While "Fire & Light" turns a tender note into beauty, with Stafford's voice leading the cello while the acoustic guitar and pedal steel add haunting layers to the song's base melody.

"Records On The Record," which also appears on Crown Point's latest, Curtains, takes a more rustic, roots approach than Crown Point; the easy-going, summer breeze melody and nostalgic lyrics paining the imagery to draw you in.

However, the highlights for Stafford are the album's two final songs, "Queen Without A Land" and the album's title track, two songs Stafford nearly cut from the album.

"They are the first songs I’ve truly ever been scared to release," he says without hesitation. "Not because I don’t love them, but because they’re so unguarded and vulnerable for me. I came close several times to not putting them on the album. To be able to overcome the fear of 'what people might think', for me, that’s the underlying message of the album."

The end result is a record that fits in well with the music of William Fitzsimmons, The Civil Wars, Angus & Julia Stone, Ray LaMontagne, Damien Rice, and Ryan Adams.

"I think that there is a counter culture brewing in the industry that is kind of a backlash to the pop formula that has been beaten into our ears through years of FM domination. People more than ever are craving music that is real, that is honest, that comes from the heart. If we as artists can’t be who we truly are in our music, then how can anyone ever fully connect with it?" comments Stafford. "This album is honest, heartfelt, and me really putting everything I am out there. Take me as I am, flawed and out of plan. Too often, we forget why we make music. We try and please everyone, we try and make everyone love our music, our image, our persona. These songs are me. They aren’t written to be everything to everyone, but I think that will help some people really connect with them on a deeper level. I think that is the kind of honesty that’s craved by listeners, especially in such a saturated and poppy world."

Jon Davidson

Jon Davidson is a guy from Portland, OR, who happens to be an alternative electronic/indie/pop artist.

In addition to his solo career, Jon is the frontman for the alt/pop band Crown Point and, formerly, the hard rock band Silversafe. In addition, he has released three solo albums in the past few years, including his latest album, Tip Of The Iceberg, which came out April 18, 2013. Jon's songs have spun on over 275 FM stations. He has been honored to share the stage with all kinds of artists, from Puddle Of Mudd to Matt White, from Saliva to Tyrone Wells, from Nonpoint to Brendan James, from Powerman 5000 to SafetySuit. Jon has toured in 44 US states, six Canadian provinces, and five countries.

Davidson has produced albums worldwide for singer-songwriters, hard rock bands, and everything in between. He has cowritten songs with 604 Records' Jeff Johnson (Nickelback, Default) and former Sony Australia artist Russell Stafford. He has tried to co-write with his cat Minisaurus. It didn't work.

Jon has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and on E! Television, FOX, NBC, and ABC. Jon's music has appeared in everything from MTV shows to Fendi and Burgerville compilation albums to several feature films.

Jon is the author of a book, Of Bombs And Blackberries. One critic calls it "the only guide to life you will ever need." That critic happens to be Jon himself. Jon is also the author of the blog Rhetorock.

Jon grew up in Michigan, lived in Israel, Austria, and Russia, and now calls Portland, Oregon home.

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