Josh Gracin, that singing Marine from "American Idol" is back.

Technically, he never left — his new self-titled album, "Josh Gracin," (search) hits stores this week.

Since his run at the "Idol" crown last year, Gracin, 23, has been splitting his time between his job as a supply operations manager at a California military base and his dream of becoming a country-western star.

"It was definitely a foot in the door," he said of "American Idol 2" — he eventually was voted off, overshadowed by winner Ruben Studdard (search) and runner-up Clay Aiken (search).

"But it's also given me the confidence I need to pursue this kind of career," he said.

That includes waking up every day at 5:30 a.m. for his on-base job. It also means rehearsing his songs in the evenings and devoting all the rest of his free time and days off to going to the recording studio and making personal appearances until he finishes up his Marine tour of duty this fall.