Adam Shenk has covered a lot of ground in a short span of time-and always, it seems, with purpose packed for the ride. The Indiana native grew up in Virginia, and by middle school, was admitted to Princeton, N.J.'s American Boychoir School, which led to performances in Japan, Iceland, Germany, France, Latvia, Denmark and Switzerland. During high school, his musical muse fostered entry to Michigan's Interlochen Center for the Arts, then the Boston Conservatory, and Berklee College of Music. But it was selection for the 2007 semi-finals of MTV's "Making the Band 4," that brought Shenk to New York. It was there he found fertile ground to launch his career as a songwriter, producer and live singer. Not surprisingly, Shenk explains that his second album, "Suitcases," focuses on transition and change: "I've learned I have to be at home with myself, no matter where I am." Produced by Ayhan Sahin with music and lyrics by Shenk, the 14-track "Suitcases" is packed with instantaneous hooks, indelible choruses and universal themes. Stylistically, the sonic triptych meshes pop and contemporary R&B with old-school soul and shades of jazz. Imagine classic Simply Red infused with the youth and verve of Chris Brown. Shenk's goal for the project is to connect his experiences with listeners, "as if I'm talking directly to them: telling a story, whispering in their ear or sitting around a fire," he notes. "Like everybody, I want to feel love and connection." Highlights include the piano-driven "Still," a mid-tempo finger-snapper that celebrates the memory of a faded love." Shenk says, "This is about the person you'll never forget, the chills and thrills you felt together." The evolution of relationships also takes center stage in the funky, synthesizer-fueled "Taste," a sensual tale of forbidden obsession. "You try to sleep, but their face is there," Shenk says. "That person is like a drug." Bringing infatuation to the next level is frenetic, nervous dance jam "Warning Shot," produced by Nick Morin, in which he lyrically muses, "We barely met, but the look in your eyes I won't soon forget." Lightening the load on "Suitcases" is playful party anthem "Saturday"-with guest rap from New Yorker Heightz. He says, "Anything seems possible... friendship, love, an endless good time. You wish it would last forever." With the memorable grooves and adhesive hooks pervading "Suitcases," Shenk has created a logical bookend to his 2007 EP, "If Ya Like This." That seven-song collection was recorded in Boston, following his brush with fame on MTV's "Making the Band." Three songs from that set encore as bonus tracks on "Suitcases": "If Ya Like This," a telling showcase for his soul-meets-jazz signature; rapid-fire "Up & Coming"; and romantic lullaby "Fall Asleep Humming." Ironically, it was while recording that first CD that Shenk wrote the song "Suitcases"-but he felt it wasn't ready for public consumption. "When I stumbled across the track, I was so taken by how it's meaning had changed, I incorporated it into my live set," including a residency at Manhattan club Pianos and NYC gigs at Rockwood Music Hall, Cutting Room, Bitter End and Bowery Poetry Club. Now, Shenk says, "Suitcases" feels ideal to lead the second album. "It's a joyful celebration of life and change-but tempered with melancholy. We all hope to soar, but sometimes you never get off the ground. It's about holding onto hope, but knowing you have only so much control." Still, with a cargo load of talent, there's no doubt that Shenk has taken charge of his destiny. "This has been essential for me to connect with the music, the dance, the writing, the entire creative process-to prove to myself that my art is important," Shenk admits. "This career is a marathon, not a race, and I look forward to so much more... love, joy, art and music." Former Billboard magazine senior writer and editor Chuck Taylor has covered music and entertainment for 25 years.