14 Songs, 47 Minutes


Ratings and Reviews

4.2 out of 5

1.8K Ratings

1.8K Ratings

Easily one of the best albums of 2009

Pitt '60

This is by far the best idol debut of any contestant yet, winner or not. And easily one of the best albums of 2009. Allen combines everything that's great about bands like lifehouse, matchbox 20, maroon 5, and the script onto one album and makes it even better. He killed this debut. His soulful and heartfelt melodies are like nothing I've heard in a long long time. And i'd consider myself a music fanatic. Best of luck to Kris. Can't wait to see these all live, especially red guitar.

'Kris Allen' has been heard before


Fresh off one of the most talked about seasons of ‘America Idol,’ champ Kris Allen offers up a valiant effort on his self-titled debut. Even though he is given a wide cast to work with in putting the album together Allen struggles to state his true identity because of the wide variety of sub-styles found on the album’s tracks.

Kicking off the disc with lead single “Live Like We’re Dying,” Allen is smart to begin on a positive note with a song that features a comforting message. Even though there is nothing spectacular about the songwriting or production here, his vocals fit the style fairly well.

The single is a good indication of the mixed bag that follows. Part of the problem here is the diverse range of styles covered by Allen, so many that its seems like he is trying to sound like already established artists. “Can’t Stay Away” finds Allen shooting for a more Rob Thomas kind of sound, and it actually sounds alright, but the annoying “oh uh oh / oh uh oh”s tagged onto the end of the chorus sound immature. On “Written All Over My Face,” however, a more electronic rock sound makes it seem like Allen is trying to take on the Red Hot Chili Peppers would record. Still, it has its catchy parts.

Even though “Bring It Back” is written by Allen and Francis White, it sounds like it’s right off OneRepublic’s debut. Usually listeners can tell if Ryan Tedder has some involvement in a song’s writing or production, but in this case his fingers came nowhere near “Back” and it still sounds like his work.

Aside from Allen’s apparent identity crisis, one thing that is painfully clear on ‘Kris Allen’ is the overabundance of clichés water down many songs’ lyrics, which is a little unfortunate because Allen wrote or co-wrote nine of the album’s tracks.

“Let It Rain” is the most forgettable track on the album. It literally does nothing to show Allen as an artist and sounds so recycled that it has no business being include over more worthy tracks that didn’t make the cut like “Send Me All Your Angels,” which he co-wrote with Chris Daughtry.

Despite a few clunkers, there are some potential hits found on the album. “Before We Come Undone” exhibits the commercial sound of Allen’s voice and the upbeat tempo help its viability on radio. “Alright With Me” is a fun sing-songy track that shows Allen knows how to have fun. It fits his character well and the lyrics in the verses are crafty despite the repetitive chorus (“It’s alright / alright with me / yeah it’s alright / alright with me”). “Lifetime” is awkward in its arrangement in parts, but it still is not bad.

“Is It Over” has a more country feel, which helps it stand out from the rest of the album’s tracks. Allen’s ability to adapt his vocals to fit the different instrumentation is remarkable, and it would serve him well to explore this area more in the future.

The Toby Gad-produced “The Truth” is the album’s strongest track even though it is very reminiscent of something The Fray would record. Allen’s lower register is actually solid and the verses here showcase it well.

One impressive aspect of ‘Kris Allen’ is the inclusion of his solo “Red Guitar,” which he wrote prior to gaining stardom. What’s even more notable is “Guitar” is one of the album’s strongest offerings because it is authentic Allen and shows the direction he really wants to go in his recording career.

Allen gives it his all on “I Need to Know,” which he co-wrote with Gad and Lindy Robbins. This is the second-best song on the album because it takes away heavy instrumentation and production and allows Allen’s vocals to do the speaking.

And Kanye West’s “Heartless,” which literally secured a spot in the finale for Allen, appears in the 13th slot with a revamped arrangement. Even though the song is most likely Allen’s signature song, and it should definitely be included over the dreadful “No Boundaries,” it would serve well as a bonus track instead of closing out the album.

Even though Kris Allen has a lot to learn about recording, he is one of the most proven artists to come from ‘Idol,’ and this disc is just the first step on a journey to a successful career.



i love kris allen so much! his voice is just amazing. sounds like the english band the script and i love them! yay kris !

About Kris Allen

Although not the first contestant to play his own instrument on American Idol, Kris Allen benefitted more than most from the experience, and his coffeehouse singer/songwriter vibe earned him a first place finish in 2009. Pitted against powerhouse vocalist Adam Lambert during the show's finale, Allen emphasized his wide-ranging abilities as a musician, playing piano during a cover of "Ain't No Sunshine" and strumming the guitar for an acoustic take on Kanye West's "Heartless." The instrumental accompaniment paid off, as Allen won the competition on May 20, 2009.

Born in 1985 in Jacksonville, Arkansas, Kristopher Neil Allen embraced music at an early age. He took up the viola during middle school, earning a spot in Arkansas' all-state orchestra before teaching himself to play guitar several years later. While studying business at the University of Central Arkansas, he also focused on songwriting and recorded an EP, Brand New Shoes, with the help of two classmates. The EP's material showed traces of Jason Mraz's folk-pop. Moreover, it gave Allen enough confidence to audition for American Idol in mid-2008, and he returned early the following year as part of the show's cast.

Hailed as the competition's dark horse, Allen slowly amassed a TV following with performances of the Swell Season's "Falling Slowly," Michael Jackson's "Remember the Time," and Donna Summer's "She Works Hard for the Money." Although he shared a room with Adam Lambert throughout the season, Allen proved to be the stylistic opposite of his contender, whose theatrical performances often contrasted with Allen's unassuming demeanor and laid-back, guitar-driven arrangements. Such differences contributed to Allen's first-place victory, and the singer hit the road shortly thereafter on the annual American Idol tour. He also prepped his debut album for release in late 2009, working with songwriters and producers including Eg White, Chris Daughtry, and David Hodges. The album's first single, "Live Like We're Dying," was released in September and peaked at number 89 on the singles charts, followed two months later by Allen's self-titled debut album.

Allen returned in 2012 with his sophomore album, Thank You Camellia. Purportedly named after his house in Los Angeles, the album found Allen working with a handful of producer/songwriters including former Sugarcult singer Tim Pagnotta, Nasri & Adam Messinger, and Boots Ottestad, among others. Included on Camellia was the lead-off single, "The Vision of Love."

Despite the relative success with his first two major-label releases, he parted ways with RCA that year. A holiday EP, Waiting for Christmas, was released at the end of the year and Allen continued to tour through 2013.

In 2014, Allen unveiled his fourth effort, Horizons, which he released on his own Dog Bear Records label. Letting You In arrived in 2016, and was his second consecutive release to debut in the Top 20 on Billboard's Independent chart. ~ Andrew Leahey

Jacksonville, AR
June 21, 1985




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