The X Factor viewers were left shocked last night when it was announced Fremantle singer- songwriter Matt Gresham had left the Seven hit for personal reasons.
The seasoned musician reached the Top 24 Home Visits stage - equalling last year's effort which saw him travel to New York and be mentored by R&B heavyweight Usher - but pulled out before joining his fellow over-24 contenders in the Big Apple under the tutelage of Dannii Minogue and superstar sister Kylie.
Last night's episode assigned the remaining Top 24 contestants to their respective judges, with the under-24 girls set to be guided by Redfoo in London, the under-24 boys partnered with Ronan Keating in Los Angeles and the groups going to Natalie Bassingthwaighte in Queensland.
Gresham - who was replaced in the show by K-pop diva Dami Im - told Access All Areas he put himself out of the competition to follow his heart as an independent musician.
"This year on The X Factor has been amazing and really inspirational, just seeing the response with everyone liking the songs," he said.
"There's no hard feelings . . . whenever I'm in Sydney, The X Factor crew always come to my gigs so it's not like a bad leaving of the show. It's been great exposure."
The 24-year-old singer enjoyed an eventful second successive season on The X Factor, having married his long-time love Mellissa - who he met at North Fremantle music venue Mojo's during his teens - while trying his luck on the popular talent show.
"We got married in April between auditions and Boot Camp. I had the audition on a Wednesday and we got married on the Saturday, went to Vietnam on the Sunday for two weeks and then went straight to Boot Camp," he said.
"It was a big two weeks . . . and it's been a big year!"
Despite his blues and roots leanings, Gresham demonstrated his versatility on this year's show with acoustic-driven covers of Bill Withers ' Ain't No Sunshine and Usher's Burn, and admitted he was a keen experimentalist at his regular gigs.
"I did Kylie Minogue's Can't Get You Out Of My Head on an old National blues guitar from Mississippi and I've been doing Milkshake by Kelis too, on slide guitar," he laughed.
While Gresham denied himself the chance to revisit New York and rub shoulders with Kylie, he could well realise a long-held dream of meeting one of his musical heroes, Californian multi-instrumentalist Ben Harper.
"I bought Ben's old guitar because his mum runs a music shop in LA and Ben sells most of his old guitars there, so I chat to her all the time," he revealed.
The X Factor Home Visits continue today on Seven/GWN7 at 7.30pm.