Singer-songwriter Gabe Lopez Singer-songwriter Gabe Lopez

Baby-faced singer-songwriter Gabe Lopez has been most widely known as an American Idol's best friend: He produced Season 1 contestant Jim Verraros' unrelentingly catchy Rollercoaster CD (as well as its infectious club hit, "You Turn It On"), and now he's working with former Idol wannabe and Coca-Cola vocalist Angela Peel on her rock debut.

"When I'm producing other artists like Jim or Angela, I'm always happy when I see that look on their face that says, 'That's it! That's what I want!'" the Santa Barbara native tells TVGuide.com. "But I'm eager to show the world what I can do, too. I hope my music will strike a chord... and connect with people [everywhere] the way it has with people here in L.A."

With the recent release of his own 17-track This Is About You album, it seems inevitable that not only will Lopez's music connect with people, it'll bowl them over. His thinking-kid's pop-rock radiates the kind of sincerity that can't be manufactured, and even his dance tracks suggest an earthiness that's almost unheard-of at the disco.

"I wanted to make an album that wasn't stale or the same all the way through," explains the natural-born multitasker, whose influences range from the Beatles to Prince. "I wanted more of a variety than you'd find on a lot of albums aimed at cracking the Top 40.

"I wanted to show different sides of myself, too  the party boy, the heartbroken boy, happy, sad, optimistic, naughty, nice. Stuff that everyone kind of goes through," he adds. "That's why it's called This Is About You. The 'you' is everyone."

Despite the sweet vocals and tart lyrics on This Is About You Lopez knows that, as a non-Idol who is not dating a paparazzi magnet, he faces an uphill battle getting his music heard. Still, he believes that if you lend him an ear, he'll steal your heart.

"It's so hard these days without a show or something to launch you," he concedes. "Radio is tough right now. But online promotion is big  [authoring pages on] MySpace.com and the like. Word of mouth works well for artists like me. In the end, I can only hope that the honesty of the songs connects to people."

For more on Lopez, visit GabeLopez.com.