The singer-songwriter is back with new music and an upcoming tour

By Nick Maslow
Updated September 17, 2015 09:00 AM
Rob Thacker

At last, new music from David Cook has arrived, and only PEOPLE has your first listen!

Believe it or not, it’s been four years since Cook released his last album, This Loud Morning, and seven years since he sang his way to victory on season 7 of American Idol.

The singer-songwriter, 32, returns with the release of Digital Vein on Friday. Fans can preorder here.

Cook’s latest offering runs the gamut of upbeat rockers (his single “Criminals” packs both an infectious hook and epic guitar riff) to experimental tracks (he reinterprets Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”).

In an interview with PEOPLE, Cook talks new music, his upcoming tour and Idol‘s last season.

You produced the majority of the songs on Digital Vein yourself. How does this album represent your evolution as an artist?

Moving to Nashville has been great for me creatively. Some of the best storytellers on the planet are here. I’ve been really trying to learn from them and let each song have its own narrative. Diving in headfirst into the songwriting scene – writing for myself and other artists – has opened me up a bit. To get to write across genres and try new things keeps it fresh.

Your headlining tour kicks off on Sept. 30. What can fans expect?

With a new record, we try to raise the bar a bit. Anybody who has been to our show knows we make it a unique experience, whether that’s a change to the set list. We’re going to try to make it more of a multisensory show.

Idol‘s last season is coming up – who would you love to see at a reunion?

I’m sad to see it go. I’d just love to see the original judging panel back for a minute. I touch base with David Archuleta about once a month now that he’s back home from his Mormon mission.

How did the show change your life?

I can afford to pay my bills. I was living in Tulsa and was hustling to make ends meet. Idol allowed me the opportunity to make a living doing what I love to do.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently on the show?

I think I got so ingrained in the week to week, just trying to make it through. I do wish I would have stepped back and take mental snap shots. There are moments I remember, but for the most part it was a blur.

If you were back on the show, who on the panel would you want to judge you?

I got the chance to go back and talk with the current panel. I had a cool, natural conversation with Keith Urban and a good music conversation with Harry Connick Jr. I bonded with those guys.

For more on Cook, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.