In January, Colton Dixon celebrated his wedding anniversary with wife Annie, marking one year since the couple made headlines with their decision to save sex for marriage. Now he has a new album—and music video premiering exclusively with PEOPLE—leading him into spring.
Transitioning from rock into “more of a pop thing,” Dixon says making Identity, his new record out March 24, is the most fun he has had making an album. Split into three sections—mind, body and spirit—the Idol alum says it is a lot of territory to explore, and marriage has influenced a lot of that.
“Marriage influences every aspect of life, not just music-making,” Dixon, 25, tells PEOPLE exclusively, with his wife Annie by his side.
With the music video’s encouraging track “All That Matters,” inspired by a Bible verse discussing people’s pasts and worth, Dixon says listeners have freedom to interpret the track how they wish, whether they note Dixon’s Christian faith’s influence or perceive his newlywed bliss.
“It’s funny, there were some songs that I probably had Annie in mind more than others, but it’s not necessarily something that has to be down a certain path,” Dixon says. “Faith plays a huge part in the music, but I don’t think this record is limited to a Christian background.”
Dixon also penned a song—which came to him in a dream—inspired by Annie’s brother Dillon, who died shortly before Colton met her.
“I literally just had this song downloaded into my brain,” Dixon says. “I remember writing out the lyrics and singing it to her for the first time. We cried together and just had a beautiful moment.”
The wedded couple travels together while Dixon is on the road for the Winter Jam tour, which brings new experiences—including sharing hotel rooms!
“When we only have to book one hotel room, we’re like, ‘What?!’ Before we were married, we would book two rooms just to try and do the best we could in that area,” Dixon shares, as the first time they shared a hotel room was on their honeymoon last January. “It saves us money, and it’s great!”
The couple also duets on stage to “Through All of It,” and Colton says it is his favorite song he does every night. Annie says it took some time getting used to the packed arena crowds, but calls the past year “an adventure.”
“Everything is new, just traveling together and living life together,” she says. “We dated long-distance so we’re even living in the same town and now the same house. It’s been really great. It has been like a learning curve for a lot of different aspects. But it’s been so good.”
Colton says Annie helps him navigate tour life and loves having “a piece of home” with him. And though their honeymoon photos include rugged ATV rides where dirt splattered the couple’s faces, Colton and Annie agree: They’re normally hardcore shoppers when they travel on the road!
“Being on the artist side can be a really hard thing to navigate, especially now that I’m married. You have thousands of people cheering and applauding you when you come to work. It’s a weird thing,” he says. “She keeps me grounded with that very well. It’s just as important to make her feel just as valued and important because she is. Marriage isn’t easy, but it’s so worth it!”
Dixon adds it was great to be back on Idol performing for the series finale, and reunions are not off the table.
“Every once in a blue moon, I’ll hit up somebody. I love Phillip Phillips, he’s a great guy and we were really close when we were on the show [on season 11]. We’ve yet to double date with him and his wife Hannah, but we need to do that!”
And there’s no baby plans—yet!
“I was expecting you to say kids and I was getting nervous!” Dixon laughs as he makes eye contact with his wife. “I’ve been so blown away by this first year that I don’t even really know what to expect for the second and third and twentieth. I feel like we’re always learning.”