Kris Allen: Thank You Camellia

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Posted June 15, 2012 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0
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Allen’s sophomore album showcases growth with maturing pop sound

Being an American Idol champ is something that’s impossibly hard to fight off. For Kris Allen, the winner of Season 8, he’s been trying to dodge the career blunders of some of the show’s winners by trying to find his voice in today’s ever-changing recording market. Certainly Allen has the boyish charm, the secret ingredient that carried him over runner-up Adam Lambert, but his self-titled debut album left more to be imagined, while Lambert stormed out the gate (and out the closet) as the latest Lady Gaga-inspired glam rockstar. Kris Allen was loaded with a hodgepodge of big name record producers and songwriters, while also showcasing Allen’s songwriting skills, but the decision to rock out a safeguarded record, like his stint on Idol, and the ability to be everything to everybody – from jumping from singer/songwriter to formulaic teen pop to country rock to The Script covers (“Live Like We’re Dying”) – gave him a slight identity crisis. Thank You Camellia, Allen’s second disc, hopes to rewrite those wrongs.

Right off the bat, the album’s opening cuts put Allen in Top 40 territory: “Better With You” rides a sugary Backstreet Boy melody and catchy love letter lyrics (“Wherever I go/Whatever I do/Stay by my side/Cuz baby it’s always better with you”); “The Vision of Love,” possibly his strongest single to date, dances around Coldplay pop-rock tricks decked out with “whoa-whoa” sing-a-long chants and U2 guitar riffs; the cleverly scribed “My Weakness” feels like a Bruno Mars-meets-Hot Chelle Rae mashup; “Loves Me Not” is a warm adult contemporary duet featuring Meiko that falls somewhere between Taylor Swift and John Mayer without sounding like “Half of My Heart.” And when Allen takes a risk or two by hunting down a more mature and aggressive lyric, like on the midtempo urban teaser of “Monster,” he doesn’t feel like a rebel without a cause. Obviously his songwriting skills has had an upgrade since his debut album and his present-day swagger dwarfs the “boy next door” innocence exhibited on Idol. He still needs to avoid the safe, predictable traps of MOR, especially for a chap his age, and he needs to find a better sleazy disco mix of “The Vision of Love” than the one crafted by Maison & Dragen if he’s going to party hard with Adam Lambert.

J MATTHEW COBB

HIFI DETAILS

  • Release Date: 22 May 2012
  • Label: RCA
  • Producers: Tim Pagnotta, The Messengers, J. Bonilla, Kevin Kadish, Per Kristian “Boots” Ottestad, Curt Schneider, Maison & Dragen,Chris DeStefano
  • Spin This: “The Vision of Love,” “Better With You,” “Monster”

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


7 Comments


  1.  
    Layla

    What does MOR stand for? Great review.
    But, he does need to sing more songs that don’t make him
    sound like he’s 30 years older than he is.




  2.  
    allyr

    Party hard with Lambert? Well, neither one is embraced by radio thanks to Idol stigma and the industry insiders pushing bubble gum and hip hop. But Allen is a married vanilla WGWG who lives in Arkansas. Why do “reviewers” insist on comparing the two then people get mad when responses are made. And Adam Lambert was not Lady Gaga inspired, he was doing Gaga, better than Gaga, long before she invented it, Google Adam Lambert Burning Man. Google Zodiac Show uTube Change is Gonna Come or Crawl Thru Fire.




  3.  
    SG

    That was a good write up, thanks for the review..I love this album so much, enough to be addicted! Hope it gets Kris were he belongs, & he belongs on the TOP!




  4.  

    Nice review. I always appreciate an objective view of this CD. I think it’s a fabulous CD. I agree with all your opinions on the songs, but I have to add that Out Alive and Rooftops also should be acknowledged as really good songs, worthy of being singles, at least to me.

    I don’t think Kris has to worry about competing or partying hardy with Lambert for any reason. Two different species. Besides which those dance clubbers loved the M&D remix of The Vision of Love, way better than any song on Adam Lambert’s CD. I think Kris has long stepped out of Lambert’s shadow (if ever he was there but I don’t think he was) except to anyone but Lambert’s fiercest and most obsessive fans.

    Thanks again. Nice review.




  5.  
    Ellenare

    Thanks for the review. I agree – Thank You Camellia is a complete upgrade in songwriting and I don’t remember Kris’s vocals being so smooth and strong. For the record, there’s a #TVOL remix EP available so if the Maison & Dragen doesn’t work for you, maybe one of these others will.
    http://www.myplaydirect.com/kris-allen/the-vision-of-love-remixes/details/26813418




  6.  
    Madeleine

    yes improved songwriting but dont forget he had 4 months while touring to make the first one. This time around, he wrote 95% of lyrics and melodies. My fav ‘monster’ was written by him and a bandmate.
    Love his album. He said he considers this album like paving his way. we haven’t heard the last of him




  7.  
    HIFI

    Thanks for all your comments. I deeply respect your responses, whether they are favorable or objectional.

    BTW, MOR is a radio format term that stands for “middle of the road.”

    Ellenare, I will check out the other mixes of “Vision of Love” that are out there.





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