Kris Allen: Kris Allen

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Posted September 16, 2010 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0

krisallen00With much of the fanfare circulating around the runner-up, the Idol winner delivers safe but pretty decent debut

The heavy burden is certainly on American Idol winner Kris Allen to prove he’s more than just a warm, Jonas Bros.-esque presence as he finally releases his self-titled debut. His benolevent blessing for Allen surrounds his easy-listening, radio-friendly voice and how it can translate well in making Top 100 music as his choice of musical format. Even with his acoustic-bearing arrangements heavily displayed on the popular FOX reality-TV show, what made Allen a rewarding pick for music labels is that he already knew his niche’ market. He capitalizes on that area of safety as well as experiments with other pop-friendly safe styles on his self-titled debut.

Most of the songs are co-written by Allen which explains why the majority of AI viewers originally trusted him to deliver the goods as their winner. Certainly Lambert, the show’s runner-up made all the headlines and drew most of the attention for his alternative brand of glam-pop, but Allen exuded a good deal of potential for a solid recording career. Which is why Kris Allen feels so friendly and universal. “Before We Come Under,” a spruced-up rock-pop anthem, sports an engaging performance filled with Allen’s radio-friendly vibes as it goes through relaxed openings and rousing belting segments. It’s one of the album’s best overall presentations, along with the album’s uptempo opener and first single “Live Like We’re Dying.” Both are songs that give Allen his shot in the real world’s popularity contest. “Can’t Stay Away” and “The Truth,” traces a similar pattern of edgy pop-rock of Daughtry while tossing in a few glances of John Mayer. An interesting showcase on “I Need to Know” provides an interesting transitional moment for the album. While it’s not his best vocal, as he tries to imitate Isaac Slade’s opener on “You Found Me,” but if given to the right seasoned vocalist, could have provided the overlooked track major adulation. Shockingly to fans, Allen dropped the idea of putting his first single, “No Boundaries,” on his debut. Instead he rushes to relive a magical AI moment using his acoustic rendition of “Heartless.”

His debut is bit much of a safe musical experiment as he searches to find his best suited genre. The debut comes across as being too insipid or close to predictable. But that’s not the loudest gripe. Good songs are burdened with the same vocal intensity and disinteresting ones, like the country-folk sing-a-long chorus on “Alright With Me,” are just harder to enjoy due to the lack of strong melodies that stick. He obviously aims to attract the general music connoisseur – with the long list of musical styles ranging from pop to rock, from country to even R&B. How strange it is for Allen, even with the Phil Collins-influenced drum work and a sexy cool vocal delivery, to hear him use the word “hommie,” as if he grew up on the northwestern side of the Bronx, in his vocabulary on his rendition of Kanye West’s “Heartless.” Not a bad effort from the AI franchise, even if it feels like safe, in-the-middle rock-pop set to predictable vocals. Those subject to refrain instantly from digging Allen’s music are probably not fans of the show or proud protesters against his victory.

J MATTHEW COBB

HIFI DETAILS

  • Release Date: 17 Nov 2009
  • Label: J
  • Producers: Andrew Frampton, Steve Kipner, Greg Kurstin, Mike Elizondo, Toby Gad, Eg White, Mike Flynn, Warren Huart, Tobias Karlsson, Joe King, Salaam Remi
  • Track Favs: Live Like We’re Dying, Before We Come Under, The Truth

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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