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Paul McDonald and Nikki Reed Release Post-Breakup Album

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July 9, 2014 4:22 PM ET

Actress Nikki Reed and American Idol alum Paul McDonald recently announced their separation, just a little more than three years after they met on an Idol episode and married after a whirlwind courtship. But over the course of their relationship, they worked on music together as a Civil Wars-like duo — and this week, their independently released full-length debut album is finally out.

With a title like I'm Not Falling and tracks like "Misery," "Bouquet of Lies," "Don't Let Me Go," and "Goodbye," the record may seem like a classic breakup/divorce album, a la Fleetwood Mac's Rumours or Richard & Linda Thompson's Shoot Out the Lights. And it does have that classic feel. (It's certainly a better breakup album than Robin Thicke's failed Paula; in fact, it's a gorgeous listen.) But some of the most romantic tracks, like "The Best Part" and "All I Ever Wanted," were originally written and recorded during earlier stages of their marriage. Either way, the two now want the public focus to be on the music itself, not on their personal lives.

"Both Nikki and I are so proud of this album," Paul tells Yahoo Music. "I feel like it showcases some of the most honest and raw songwriting I've ever been a part of."

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Paul and Nikki wrote and recorded the album's songs off and on for the last three years in Los Angeles, where the couple lived together, and in Paul's old turf of Nashville, which he now calls home again. The first batch of songs was recorded in October 2012; the second half in December 2013. Their dynamic obviously changed during that time period, but their producer (Ken Coomer, who's worked with Uncle Tupelo and Wilco) and their band remained the same for all of the sessions.

While the couple's romantic relationship has come to an end, as a musical duo, Paul and Nikki are still going strong. "I feel like through the process of writing and recording the album, we both grew significantly as songwriters and collaborators," says Paul. "It's been amazing watching Nikki grow as singer and discover a new confidence as an artist. Right now our passion for this project couldn't be stronger. We're planning on booking a tour soon. And we've already decided to start working on new songs and return to the studio in the next few months."

Check out three Paul McDonald and Nikki Reed performances in the Yahoo studio from 2012:

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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