Bucky Covington's country career took off after his appearance on American Idol in 2006, where he made it into the top eight before being sent home. Now getting ready to release his sophomore album, 'I'm Alright,' the singer says he still has mixed feelings about his time on the hit show.

"I would love to say that it's been all positives," Bucky tells The 9513. "I think there are fans and certain people in the music industry that love you because you were on 'American Idol.' You went up against all these people and while you didn't come up on top, you came out doing very well. But I think there are people that really dislike you because you were on that show. Some people think that maybe you took a shortcut, that you maybe got it handed to you. "

Working with producer Mark Miller, frontman of Sawyer Brown (whose career took off after they won the first season of 'AI' forerunner, 'Star Search' in 1983), Bucky admits he wouldn't be where he is today without Mark's guidance and direction. "To put it in the shortest perspective possible, he's been like a father-figure to me in the music business," the singer maintains.

"When you're on a show like 'American Idol,' you learn a lot of things," Bucky continues. "With an audience that big, you can perform in front of anyone. But performing in front of a TV camera is different than performing in front of thousands of people. I learned how to conduct myself differently on stage. I learned how to conduct interviews. As famous as I thought I was, I had never really done an interview. Unless it was my hometown newspaper. Internet interviews. Radio interviews. TV interviews. One is different from another. When you come off of that show, it's about music now. It's about playing music and reaching people in that manner. And Mark helped me immensely in every aspect of that."

Mark's influence on the 32-year-old extends into other areas as well. "[He] has definitely helped me in making choices like which label to go to, which management company I should go with, which booking agent I should choose. He has such a good general idea of how to make decisions."

Anxious to get his new album to his fans, Bucky says there's a marked difference between this one and his first, self-titled CD. "I'm very, very proud of my first album," he says of the project that spawned three Top 20 hits. "I think it did great and wonderful. But we were pushed for a little time on that one. When you come off of a show like ['American Idol'], you want to hit the ground running. When you come off of a TV show, you'll be remembered only as long as until the next season comes out."

This album, he says, is a stronger representation of who he is as an artist. "The one thing I absolutely love about country music is that, while in pop music, you couldn't take an '80s sounding song and do anything with it, you can take an '80s sounding country song and today go No. 1 with it. I love how country music kind of grows that way. It has some pop that's grown into it, there's a rock edge in it, but it can still do the straight country and western songs. I love that. And this album has a variety of country music like that on it. There's some soulful songs on there. We have a song on there called 'Hold a Woman' that's my '60s side, if you will. We have upbeat songs. There's one on there called 'Evil Knievil.' We've got the title track which is 'I'm Alright.' It's one of my favorites and it's a very traditional country song. I really love it."

'I'm Alright' will hit shelves this fall. The first single, 'A Father's Love' will be released in a few weeks.

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Bucky Covington on AOL Music