Current American Idol Kris Allen’s debut eponymous album is a mixture of soft melodies, driving rock choruses and classic pop/rock songs. The album includes twelve new tracks and a new version of “Heartless,” a Kanye West song for which Allen received a lot of positive feedback when he transformed it into his own acoustic rendition on American Idol.
The first single and track off the album, “Live Like We’re Dying,” is a perfect example of Allen’s widespread appeal because it is a song that fans of all music genres can enjoy and appreciate. The song, which debuted on the Billboard Hot 100, is an up-tempo catchy pop/rock song with an inspirational message. It has been exceptionally popular since the album’s release in late November, selling over 900,000 copies. In the song, Allen asks, “So if your life flashed before you, what would you wish you would have done?” The song urges people to live each day like it is the last. Instead of being a cliché, the song is powerful because of Allen’s honest conviction and delivery of the words and music.
“Can’t Stay Away,” which Allen performed on Billboard’s New Year’s Eve Live, has a Gavin DeGraw feel to it but with unique spin on it. It’s reminiscent of his performance of the Beatles’ “Come Together” on Idol because Allen’s passion drives the song from verse to chorus and from beginning to end. But perhaps the most honest and passionate song on the album is “The Truth.” The lyrics of the pre-chorus and chorus read, “It’s the elephant in the room and we pretend that we don’t see it. It’s an avalanche that looms above our heads but we don’t believe it. Trying to be perfect, trying not to let you down. Honesty is honestly the hardest thing for me right now. While the floors underneath our feet are crumbling, the walls we built together tumbling, I still stand here holding up the roof because it’s easier than telling the truth.” The tenderness and purity of Allen’s voice really shine through in this song.
The best song on the album is “Red Guitar,” a song Allen wrote before the recording process and even before he appeared on American Idol. Allen wrote the song about a $50 red guitar he bought for his wife that she never played. The couple ended up hanging the guitar on display on a wall in their home. One day, Allen picked up the guitar and wrote this song. He said that playing new instruments always inspires him to write. The lyrics read, “It may not be the best one, it may not be like the rest of ‘em, but she makes it sound so sweet, the melody she makes it sing. On her red guitar, the color never fades away, no matter where she has it placed, and my life would change when I saw the face of her red guitar.”
The album also includes punching rock songs like “Written All Over My Face,” “Before We Come Undone” and “Alright With Me.” Some of the softer songs on the album include “Bring It Back,” “Is It Over,” “I Need to Know” and “Lifetime.” The studio version of “Heartless” included on the album does not compare to Allen’s live version from the show. However, it is definitely a step up from the studio version he released the week of his Idol performance.
Kris Allen is a fantastic debut album from a talented performer and songwriter. It shows Allen’s creative abilities and his growth as an artist that has continued even after the show. The music industry can continue to expect great things from Kris Allen, and any American Idol or Kris Allen fan will certainly be satisfied by this first installment of Allen’s music.
Review by –Jillian Wagner
Kris Allen Tickets