Casey James, who became a household name after placing third in the ninth season of 'American Idol,' is counting his blessings. The country crooner reveals he was in a serious motorcycle crash a few years ago that gave him an entirely new outlook on his future.

"It's affected me as a person in every way," he tells CMIL of the accident, which happened when he was 21 years old. "It opened my eyes up to the fact that I was taking a lot of things for granted and you never know when could be the last time you say goodbye to somebody, or the last time that you play guitar, or sing. All those things being forefront in my mind now, I really appreciate everything that I've got and the time that I have. It makes me want to make sure that if my time was ended, if everything was said and done, what would people say about me? Did I leave a good mark on the world? Was I a good influence? Did I do things the right way? Did I treat people the way that I want to be treated? All those things are important to me now, and it's crystal clear, where it used to not be so important."

The Texas native, who scored the tour lottery by being invited to open several shows for Sugarland on their Incredible Machine tour, has wasted no time in recording his debut album. Signed to Sony Music Nashville's BNA Records, the singer-songwriter has already released his first single, 'Let's Don't Call It a Night,' and says he has plenty more ready to be recorded.

"I've [written] all of it so far, co-writing with a lot of great writers here in town," he notes. "I'm writing as much as possible. I'm writing everyday. Anytime something comes to me, I'm writing. The great thing about being here -- I moved from Fort Worth, Texas to Nashville, Tenn. for a lot of reasons, one of them being that there's a ton of great resources, amazing songwriters and musicians, and things to up my game ... people that I can learn from."

Casey says his fans won't have to wait much longer for the new project. "I'm thinking the beginning of next year," he reveals.

Listen to Casey James' "Let's Don't Call It A Night"