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American Idol has been able to do what the UK equivalent has been seldom able to do - launch superstars to global stardom who go on to achieve not only commercial success, but critical acclaim from those who never even watched the show. Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson and Jordin Sparks are just a handful of the huge names created by the Idol-machine. Last year's winner, Kris Allen, at a glance may not seem instant star material. He is a soft-rock singer, who may not have been the showman that series runner-up, Adam Lambert is, but has in my opinion, been able to craft an incredibly strong debut album. It is by far, one of the most consistent winner's albums and shows a clear picture of an artist who knows their strengths and the type of artist they want to be.
The opening track, 'Live Like We're Dying' has gone on to be a massive US hit - at the time of writing, it has accumulated over 1.25 million US sales. The song is hard to describe - it has an energetic feel to it, with a frantic guitar riff and cascades of drums which permeate the track. Kris delivers the lyrics with power and charisma, and with surprising personality. Speaking about living in the moment and having no regrets, it could easily have been a slush-fest. However, the conviction in Kris' voice and bold lines such as "If your plane fell out of the sky... who would you call with your last goodbye?" keep the song memorable and unique. Without a doubt, it's one of my favourite singles of the last year.
'Before We Come Undone' has a less funky feel, and a more standard pop-rock sound than the opening track but helps to show the smoother sound that Kris' voice is capable of. The lyrics are dramatic, which are amplified by the loud guitar in the chorus (which if you ask me, is mixed a little too loudly for his voice). They speak about a last ditch attempt to save a relationship with words like: "So can you tell me who's to blame?/Could we put our weapons down, just to try and figure this out." With each and every listen, the melody of this song embeds itself deeper and deeper in your mind - a catchy, and ultimately very listenable song.
The spunky 'Can't Stay Away' has some definite parallels with the kind of song Maroon 5 would produce - everything from the swagger in the verses, and the backing vocals. For me, the song is a little over-thought. "You break me down, every time you make a move/Without a sound, girl, you make me come unglued," Kris sings with conviction, but the unsatisfying end to the chorus with a "No matter what I do - I can't stay away from you" followed by a collection of "whoa-ohs" and an irritating guitar riff taint the track for me. Although to be honest, I think it's more a genre issue with me than anything, and admittedly it has grown on me since first listening.
'The Truth' begins fairly restrained, lulling you into a false sense of security, with the song feeling like a quiet ballad. However, the slow-building bass guitar in the background signals a change in pace as the powerhouse chorus kicks in. "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," he sings, in what I believe to be one of the best songs, lyrically on the album. The quiet strings that follow the chorus add a sense of epicness to the song, without overpowering it. Again, much like the opening track on the album, I really was taken aback by the quality of the vocals, the lyrics and the production. It is rare to find an artist who can balance an organic, authentic sound with radio-friendly hooks, but Kris has managed it.
With the same producers at the helm as the first single, 'Written All Over My Face', doesn't fail to impress. I think given that Kris is in his early 20s, it would be odd to craft an album that doesn't have an injection of energy and vitality to it. The lyrics of "Whatcha want me to say that I don't say?/If you want we can talk about it all day/But what's to say when it's written all over my face?" are not as poetic as the other tracks on the CD, but I think it's important to show some variation and not go so lyrically deep with every song on a 13-track album. The song is infectiously catchy, and without a doubt, it's one of my absolute favourite Kris songs. Again, his vocal conviction takes any mediocrity about the lyrics and propels them into a complete anthem. If his record label is reading this - please make it a single!
A slow piano instrumental begins 'Bring It Back', a sultry and restrained ballad, which perhaps doesn't quite live up to the quality of 'The Truth' but more than matches it for emotion. Co-writer, Eg White's (responsible for hits from Adele, Duffy, Will Young and P!nk) production adds a degree of freshness to the track (despite a few melodic similarities between some of his other work). The pleading desperation in Kris' delivery of the simple chorus of "Take your love, bring it back, bring it back," really will touch the hardest of hearts. In this case, less is more, and it really is a stunning track.
'Red Guitar' is a song which Kris has the sole writing credit on, demonstrating that he is a talented songwriter as well as singer. The mid-tempo track showcases his chocolatey and smooth vocals in the gentle verses - which are delivered with a great deal of passion, before launching into a vocal powerhouse chorus. "It may not have the strings, but she strums it beautifully," he sings in the song, communicating a warm, romantic feel that I'm sure will appeal to female listeners. Surprisingly catchy, and unique, the song is without a doubt another one of my favourites on the album (if you hadn't guessed already, this phrase applies to half the CD!).
The bluesy 'Is it Over' helps to add another dimension to the album, however, for all the diversity it brings, it is the weakest track on the album. As always, Kris' voice sounds flawless and matches the genre to a tee. However, aside from the incredible guitar solo that comes after the three minute mark, both the production and the lyrics ("And I say, is it over?/Or can I turn you around?/If I crawl on my knees") are a little too lazy for my liking.
'Let it Rain' quickly makes up for any pitfalls of the preceding track. The gorgeous breathy quality to Kris' voice, and the occasional piano lick in the song's production, blend together perfectly. The song builds in momentum with every passing verse, and as the instrumentation swells, the incredibly visual chorus really hits you as Kris' vocals soar on the line "oh, let the rain keep falling down". It's hard to put my finger on it, but there's something incredibly beautiful about the melody and the delivery of this song.
While songs like 'Can't Stay Away' are a little over-thought, the infectious 'Alright With Me' shows how to make a funky, personality-rich song that is both authentic and completely unique. The bouncy piano line, hand-clap production and acoustic guitar strumming create an upbeat, cheerful song that doesn't ever get too emotionally heavy or serious. It's no surprise that Ford used this song in a car commercial - I can imagine this is the perfect song to drive along to on a hot summer's day!
The slow-building guitar and the experimentation in Kris' lower vocal register begin 'Lifetime' curiously, but quickly evolves into one of the most inspirational and perhaps, lyrically poetic on the album. "Living doesn't come first try/It takes a lifetime getting it right//It takes a lifetime to learn how to sing/To find my place in the world symphony" he sings, describing how life's peaks and troughs help make you who you are today. The song has a wonderful message and as always, there's such a high level of conviction in Kris' voice, it sounds like he is tearing the song from his soul as opposed to just emptily singing the words in the studio.
'I Need to Know' is the definition of simplicity. Co-written with Toby Gad, pop producer behind Beyoncé's 'If I Were a Boy', I was expecting a full on pop power ballad. However, the simple piano led production (which is the slowest on the album) gives a startlingly refreshing change to the more guitar heavy moments on the CD - which is good, as there are moments when you feel the production is beginning to verge on being too samey. The slow building ballad is a grower, but the stripped back production places emphasis firmly on the beautiful lyrics ("Roads in front of me/Taking me astray/Are you leaving me or are you leading the way?").
The album closes on 'Heartless' - Kris' cover of the Kanye West megahit. For those who have never heard his version before, I'd share your collective horror too. How on earth does an artist like Kris take on a hip-hop song? His creativity as an artist is showcased perfectly here, as he transforms the track's sound into an incredibly dark, rock track. Although I must admit, I prefer his more acoustic arrangements of the song, Amy Winehouse-producer, Salaam Remi adds a really unique feel to it - placing the focus on haunting background vocals and pounding drums. Kris' natural charisma pulls off the swagger of the hip-hop track, and creates a truly phenomenal close to the CD. And props to Kanye, Kris' delivery actually brings out the meaning behind the song which paints a portrait of the sinister behaviour of a gold-digger.
Ultimately, Kris' debut is a strong one. Despite a couple of weaker moments in the middle, his emotive voice and song-writing craft are still able to make them leave a mark on you. If you are a fan of artists like the Script, Maroon 5, James Morrison or Jason Mraz you may enjoy this. I think if people can listen to his music without the reality show stigma, they will be immensely impressed as there are few new artists who can match Kris' song writing, style or vocals in the soft-rock genre today.
With all the publicity around American Idol's season 8 runner up Adam Lambert, one tends to forget that he was just that - the runner up - and that the winner was Kris Allen. Kris is nothing like Adam artistically, and his eponymous debut album certainly couldn't be any more different than Adam's "For Your Entertainment". Personally, I think Kris' album proves exactly why he was the winner last year, and despite lower sales, one that I think will have wider appeal, and ultimately, a longer shelf-life than Adam's first outing.
There are two things on this album that one will notice are very prevalent in this collection of songs. The first being that the vast majority of them are about love - and most particularly, relationships that are having problems. The exceptions to that rule are the opening song "Live Like We're Dying", "Lifetime" and one of my personal favorites, "Red Guitar". There are also two songs that are more about chasing the girl, and those are "Can't Stay Away" and "Alright with Me", both of which are real toe tapping songs that depend lots on his acoustic guitar. But all the other songs seem to be about couples on the verge of heartbreak. While there's nothing wrong with that, it's just that it does come as a bit of a surprise that this would be the theme (albeit unintentional, I'm sure) of an album by one of American Idol's most happily married men (aside from maybe this year's "Big Mike"). One must admit that this subject matter is one of the most popular among most songwriters, so perhaps we shouldn't complain. Still, it does make one all the more appreciate artists like Regina Spektor who fill their albums with songs on such varied subjects as say, finding someone's wallet.
On the up side of this, rather than inane rhymes and lyrics that are so cliched that you want to flinch, Allen's songs do come with a touch of poetry. One of the best examples comes from the song "Lifetime" which includes this lovely metaphor (among others):
Living doesn't come first try/ it takes a lifetime of getting it right./ It takes a lifetime to learn how to sing,/ to find my place in the world's symphony/ to become the melody,/ the man I know I could be.
Now really, when was the last time you heard the word symphony in a modern song? There's quite a bit of these types of playing on ideas in this album. For instance, in the song "The Truth" there's the longest chorus I've ever heard on any song, but I have to admit that I do like how it was constructed. That marathon chorus starts out with:
Its the Elephant in the room/ and we pretend we don't see it./ Its an avalanche that looms above our heads/ and we don't believe it.
Well, that's one way of saying we're avoiding looking at the problem. Later in the chorus (and yes, there is a bit in between) he says:
While the floors underneath our feet are crumbling,/ the walls we built together tumbling,/ I still stand here holding up the roof/ 'cause its easier than telling the truth.
So although these metaphors are a touch mixed, at least he's got some poetry here. And speaking of metaphors, the song that really gives us the most to think about, is "Red Guitar" which is obviously from start to finish one metaphor. If you ask me "a metaphor for what?" I'd have to say - an experience you have had that effects you so much it becomes part of you for the rest of your life. Now, it really is unusual to think that this type of philosophical song with such poetry came out of a kid who is just 25 years old (the same age as my own son)! But there you have it - this song is something special - and by the way, the only one on this album that is 100% Allen's work.
The other interesting thing about this album is that unlike almost every other American Idol (aside from maybe the Country singers), Allen's album has the type of variety that keeps you listening from track to track. For instance, take that bit of upbeat fun and funk on "Alright With Me" coming after the heartfelt ballads "Is it Over" and "Let it Rain" that makes you sit up and take notice here. How refreshing after such monotone debut collections as Daughtry's or even David Cook's. But more importantly, Kris doesn't end up totally overdoing it with the production here. It seems to me that when one of these contestants gets into a professional studio for the first time, they're probably like a kid given free reign in an ice cream shop - putting every topping and sauce they could ever have possibly hoped for on top of as many scoops as the bowl will take! Yes, the production here is a bit on the slick and thick in places (why people think that adding a string section will make their songs sound more sophisticated is beyond me), but thankfully we still get songs with solo guitar and/or piano in acoustic mode on the ballads such as "Let it Rain" and "Bring it Back". This means that even in the more upbeat songs, we don't loose Allen's voice and can hear his attitude throughout the songs - both of which are the reasons he won last year's American Idol.
That's another thing about this album, and something which I think the judges this year are trying to bring out in the contestants. At one point during last year's contest, Kris started taking songs and making them his own, into something he'd want to put on his album. That's when he started to lead the pack, by following Adam Lambert's examples. While most people think his version of "Apologize" was the height, I think his version of the disco song "She Works Hard for the Money" was the real turning point for him. Unfortunately, the cover song he's included here from the competition is "Heartless" and it is by far the least successful of all the tracks here - being way over produced, and sounding almost disco. Still, it does fit the overall theme of the album, and it is a good song.
In all, this is a very nice collection of songs which showcases Allen's talent and unique abilities perfectly. He's got some rocky upbeat songs, including ones on the funky side, along with softer more heartfelt ones to make a nice balance. For me, this is perfect travel music - just the thing for a drive in the car or ride on public transportation. It won't bore you by having each song sound the same, and there is enough depth to the lyrics here to get you thinking. I can honestly say that I like all the songs here - and only wished he's had a lighter touch on some of the productions. So far, if you ask me, this is the best debut album from any American Idol contestant since I've been watching the show (with season 4). For that, I'll highly recommend it and give it 4½ out of five stars and hope it starts getting the attention (and sales) it deserves because of its artistic content - vocally, musically and lyrically (vs the controversy of his runner-ups album).
Davida Chazan © April 2010
1. Live Like We're Dying
2. Before We Come Undone
3. Can't Stay Away
4. The Truth
5. Written All Over My Face
6. Bring It Back
7. Red Guitar
8. Is It Over
9. Let It Rain
10. Alright With Me
12. Need to Know
This is available new on Amazon for £11.99, or through their marketplace from £7.67 or for MP3 download for £7.49 - if you choose the latter, don't bother with the bonus track of "Heartless".
Tis the season for the brilliant winners and runners ups of American Idol to release their debut albums. This year's American Idol was a little bit controversial, not only did they have probably the most popular and controversial star they ever had on the show but this star was beaten to the post by a very good singer, but a less popular one in the eyes of the public. It is his album that arrived on my doorstep first, and so it will be his album I'll be reviewing first.
Who is Kris Allen?
Born in 1985, Kris Allen is an American singer/songwriter from Arkansas. He shot to fame in the 8th season of American Idol when he defied all odds and won the 8th season with a landslide of votes. With his smooth gorgeous vocals to his stunning good looks, he is the total package. This is his debut album, can he do what a lot of Idol stars have not been able to do and create an amazing debut album?
As always I'll do a track listing review, I do this as over 50% of people who might buy this album, will very likely go onto places like napster or ITunes and buy the songs. I hope my review will stop them buying the duds in the album and hopefully help them get the great ones.
Track 1: Live like we're dying
I have had this track on Spotify for quite a while now and have been listening to it quite often since and have gone off it a little since then. The first time I heard it I loved the verses but the chorus I wasn't a huge fan of, but listening to it now I am able to really listen to it and realise how good the song truly is.
The song is about existing in the moment and really living without any regret in your life and making sure that you tell the people in your lives that you love them. I think the lyrics are brilliant, it is all about treating each day like you're dying so that you have no regrets about anything. It's very poignant and it just works. Kris goes into a little rap bit which wasn't very good but all in all it was a very good song and one that shows how talented he truly is, even if it isn't his. Apparently it is a cover of The Scripts song.
Rating: 8/10 (Good but not brilliant, rather than grow on you, it's lost its appeal in my opinion)
Track 2: Before We Come Undone
I love this track, his voice is so smooth and it is the reason why he won the show in the end, it isn't the most unique of voices, I'm sure he'll be compared to many people, but for me this is the sort of song that I wanted him to create when he won the show. The verses are awesome, full of brilliant lyrics and his voice is smooth and very easy to listen to. When it comes to the chorus however I'm a little less impressed as his voice gets drowned out a little bit, but it does change the pace of the song, so I see why they have done it.
I love this song, and will definetly keep it on my IPod, it's a lot better than the previous two songs that I have heard from Kris Allen, and it is very upbeat and very much what I wanted from him as a recording artist.
Rating: 9/10 (A brilliant song, I love it now, and I have a feeling it's a grower as well)
Track 3: Can't Stay Away
This song has a bit of a Maroon 5 feel about it in my opinion, his voice sounds a little like Adam Levine and the way the song is put together has that feel, however I don't think it'll live up to the brilliance that is Maroon 5, as it seems a little over produced in my opinion. The previous song worked because it was simple and relied mostly on his voice, this song works within the verses because of this, however when it comes to the chorus they use just a little bit too much with the backing singers and the very heavy musicians that it loses its appeal slightly.
That's not saying it's not a good track, it is, I probably will keep it on my ITunes for a while, but I'm not too sure how long it'll stay on there, it's not as strong as the previous two, but it is still a very good track.
Rating: 7/10 (Good but not brilliant. It should have been a lot better)
Track 4: The Truth
From the first few notes you can tell this is going to be a ballad and boy does it work, it is a lovely track and according to the little booklet thing it's co-written by Pat Monahan who I believe was in Train, this song is lovely, it's exactly what I wanted from Mr Allen when he won the show, so far he hasn't let me down, his voice is still very soft and very smooth and that's why we all fell in love with him on the show.
The song is beautiful, with gorgeous lyrics like 'Honesty is honestly the hardest thing for me right now' the track is one that is going straight onto my ITunes and sticking there, it is beautifully sung by Kris Allen and it's probably the best on the track so far. Not disappointed me yet Mr Allen, can the next 8 tracks keep it up?
Rating: 9/10 (Just beautiful, I think it is one of the best vocals I've ever heard from him before. Just stunning)
Track 5: Written All Over My Face
I usually sit down to write these reviews with my headphones in, but this song I had it on speaker whilst we were making tea and me and my sister both said, it sounds just like The Script's songs. I had a little look in the booklet and low and behold it is a Script song, it was co-written by four or five blokes, including The Scripts Danny O'Donoghue.
Despite the fact it's a The Script rip off, well I wouldn't go that far, but I'm afraid this is one of the weakest on the album so far, I think this is because I can just imagine O'Donoghue singing it and I think his voice would have worked out better on it. It is a good song still, no doubting that, Kris' vocals are amazing, but the song for me is not up to the same par as some of the songs on the album. It should have been on The Scripts next album not on here.
Rating: 7/10 (A good track, nothing brilliant and Danny O'Donaghue from The Script obviously had a lot to do with the song as it sounds like his whole album)
Track 6: Bring It Back
The song starts off with a really slow piano piece and then Kris's smooth and sultry voice joins in and it starts off as a gorgeous ballad, the chorus brings the speed up a little bit but throughout Kris's voice stays strong and it's a very beautiful song. I don't think it has the same sort of emotion that The Truth had but it is truly a gorgeous song. I have just done a little bit of research and the guy that helped Kris with this song is Eg White who wrote Chasing Pavements by Adele. It's a gorgeous song, and I can even see the music video running in my mind.
I think this is the sort of song which will completely grow on you. His voice keeps the song strong, but the gorgeous melody throughout keeps the song modern and it just works brilliantly well together. It will stay in my Itunes and I'm sure it'll grow on me a lot more.
Rating: 8/10 (Not as good as The truth but still completely beautiful. You can hear Eg White's collaboration in the melody of the song, it's a lot like Chasing Pavements in places but it totally works)
Track 7: Red Guitar
This is a post Idol track, one written completely by Allen and one before he managed to even get into the audition stage of American Idol, it doesn't have the same sort of motivation behind it that I felt the other tracks had, but the melody is completely gorgeous, I could just listen to that all day and Allen's voice is brilliant, but together it just doesn't gel brilliantly, I'm not sure if it's due to the lyrics or not, but it almost sounds like he's trying to put a pop and country song together in places and it doesn't work as well as I would like.
Okay the lyrics are a little bit preposterous, he's talking about his life was changed by the face of a red guitar, I know it's supposed to be a metaphor but it doesn't have the deep sense of meaning that the lyrics in his other tracks have.
Rating: 7/10 (The one he wrote before Idol is still as gorgeous as the rest, the melody is gorgeous as is his voice, but something seems missing)
Track 8: Is It Over
When I saw the track listing for this album, I was mentally coming up with titles for the album in my head, and this was one of the ones I thought that would work brilliantly if the album was very poor. So far, no luck at this point and the album is gorgeous. This track has a gorgeous bluesy feel to it and it's very different from the rest of the album, it does have a Gavin DeGraw kind of feel to it and it just works.
I don't think this one will last too long on my Itunes, I have a small portion of space left on my IPod so I'm being careful at the moment but still it is a very good song, just not my kind of music. I like the fact he's gone out there and changed his music style up and it's worked.
Rating: 7/10 (Good, not brilliant, but a good song. It's very different from what he usually sings ts well)
Track 9: Let It Rain
It sounds like another winner, his voice sounds a lot breathier in this track and it really does work, it fits more into the pop genre than most of the songs on the album and it really just does work. It's brilliant and his voice again keeps the track running and keeps it modern and to the point.
It does have an almost ballad feel to it in places but there's no doubt that it's a 'pop' song, the track is just stunning, the melody, his voice, the lyrics are beautiful and together they've created a gorgeous track.
Rating: 8/10 (A gorgeous song, it's not perfect, and there is something missing, can't put my finger on that yet, but his voice is just gorgeous. A track to listen out for)
Track 10: Alright With Me
I really loved the first part of this when it was just Allen's voice and the drums, then heavy guitars joined in and it became just a little bit too commercial and more like a weird jingle for me. I love the beginning of the song, and I think if the song had been done like that it would have worked out brilliantly, but because the guitars joined in, it became quite tacky even.
I think Allen's voice is strong throughout even though the rest of the song doens't work. So far it's the weakest on the album, it could have been brilliant but it failed.
Rating: 5/10 (A tacky song, started off good with a boppy song, but it's not for me at all)
Track 11: Lifetime
It's not the best song on the album, I can't see it worming it's way into my brain and staying there, but the melody is strong and Allen's voice is gorgeous as always, but together it doesn't gel as much as I would like, I think the only bit that really fits is the chorus which shows his vocal range off brilliantly, but the verses and the weird but cool melody just don't work very well together and because of that, I can't see the song becoming a grower in my eyes.
Rating: 6/10 (A good chorus, great vocals and a cool melody, but the verses full flat and I think this track falls into the filler category)
Track 12: I Need To Know
It's probably the slowest song on the album, and Kris's breathy voice is back and again it's a gorgeous piano ballad which fits Kris' voice in the best way possible, the chorus is slightly repetitive, but when you listen to the song, you're struck by the simplicity and the beauty of the song that you ignore that little fact.
A lot of artists would have used this song and made this song get heavier at the chorus or something along those lines, but what I love is the fact that Kris keeps it simple and only builds up the pace a little at the final chorus, the piano becomes a little heavier but the song stays soft and just one of the most beautiful songs on the album.
Rating: 9/10 (Gorgeous, just gorgeous. It is one of the slowest but one of the best songs on the album)
Track 13: Heartless
One of Kris's most famous songs on American Idol was his cover of the brilliant song Heartless, the version on American Idol was done acoustically and was just beautiful, it was simple and very, very well put together. It showed he was a very good artist and that he could easily win the show over Adam Lambert, however on the album, they've changed it up again and made it hip hop ish and it just isn't very good.
This song was probably one of my most favourite tracks he performed on Idol and now I think it's probably the weakest on the album, it doesn't work like this, it should have been so much better. If you can, get the acoustic version of this, it's a lot better. This song isn't hugely bad, but it should have been better.
Rating: 6/10 (The version he did on Idol was awesome, this is weak and not very good at all, there are moments of great things but most of it pales in comparison to the one on Idol)
I actually though that this album was going to turn out quite badly, these winners and runners up always pretty much release their debut albums about 5 months after the end of Idol, and in that time they're doing the tour and everything else, so this album is rushed and it is put out very quickly, which is why a lot of the times you find that an Idol's debut album turns out quite weak.
Kris hasn't released a weak album by any stretch of the word, it's exactly what I was hoping for and a lot more, Kris had this gorgeous sultry smooth voice which I thought may get forgotten about in the production studio however the album is based around it and it works gorgeously. I love the fact that they have played to his strengths unlike artists like Jordin Sparks or Jennifer Hudson, both are great ballad singers who were told they were better singing crap RnB music somewhere down the line.
I thought the songs on this album were brilliant, they were very strong, well most of them were, and I was slightly disappointed that this great guitarist didn't once in the whole album sit down and play a completely acoustic song, it would have been great to hear Heartless again acoustically or one of the other songs. I think there are some definite standouts on the album, but not many weak links at all and that is down to Kris Allen's brilliant voice and actually his brilliant writing style. There are no 10/10 songs on here, but a lot of 9/10s however.
For me a lot of respect for an artist is lost when I find out that they are not writing their own songs, for me the better artists are the ones that write their own songs, I love the fact that 9 out of 12 songs on the album are written by Mr Allen himself, this means that he gives a lot more of himself on the album and I think that you get a lot more from the album when the artist singing wrote the words on the page in front of him. I love the feel behind the album, it's all about discenchantment and loss and it works brilliantly.
Despite the fact that he wrote over 75% of the songs on the album, he didn't completely write every word on the page, a lot of the songs are collaborations and in some of the songs, most specifically 'Written All Over My Face' which was co-written by Danny O'Donaghue from The Script, the song sounded like it was taken straight from The Scripts album and didn't have much of Allen's personal style within it. It makes me worry about how much of this album he actually completely wrote on his own.
When Mr Allen won American Idol he was made like all of the stars to sing and release a very terrible song, but unlike the rest of them, this track called No Boundaries is no where to be found on this album. Kudos for him. This song was not written for Kris Allen at all, they all believed that Adam Lambert was going to win and it suited his voice perfectly, not Kris's. Well done to him for not putting it on this album.
Kris Vs Adam
Throughout Idol there was this big fued between Adam Lambert and Kris Allen, not between them, but between the fans. A lot of us were appreciative of both of them and didn't care if either of them won, but a lot of people like always have taken sides and either criticise Adam or Kris depending on who they like.
I myself thought that Adam would win the show, and was wrong there, and when I heard they were both releasing albums I thought that Adam's would be the clear winner for me, however I'm not too sure. I have yet to have the chance to listen to Adams album (not been released when I wrote this review) but this album was very strong and I will find myself listening to a lot of the songs again I'm sure.
Kris and Adam are very different but I think from what I've heard about Adam's album, Kris's might be the better of the two.
==Is he going to be an Idol star or and Idol flop? ==
Well for one, he can sing unlike Taylor Hicks and I think that he is possibly the hottest male winner ever on the show (David Cook in 2nd place), but his voice is so smooth and so beautiful. I don't think he'll ever be as big as Sparks, Clarkson and Daughtry but I still think he'll do pretty well for himself and I'm sure that girls will be lining up for his concerts in due course.
You'll Like Him If You Like...
Gavin DeGraw (the guy that sung One Tree Hill's theme song)
The album is a little bit expensive at the moment like all albums are when they're first released, I used an amazon voucher on this one and the next two CD's I'll be reviewing. I think £8.98 is a lot for this album, but if you get the chance to check out songs like The Truth, I Need to Know and Bring It Back and you'll find yourself listening to some gorgeous songs.
Even though he does attempt some RnB songs, I would call this album a pop/ballad album rather than an RnB album, his voice is better suited for pop music and ballad music and that is what he does best in my opinion. If you check out his songs that I've mentioned just above on YouTube (if they're on their yet) and if you like them, then I would recommend downloading some of the songs of Itunes or even buying the album when it gets a little cheaper. It isn't going out of my collection for a little while I don't think.
The album shocked me, I thought it was going to be terrible but it turned out lovely. I would recommend listening to Kris Allen, he's got a gorgeous voice, one well worth listening to.
Lets hope the next two Idol albums I have coming turn out as good as this.
(C) Kirsty 2009
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Live Like We're Dying
2 Before We Come Undone
3 Can't Stay Away
4 Truth, The
5 Written All Over My Face
6 Bring It Back
7 Red Guitar
8 Is It Over
9 Let It Rain
10 Alright With Me
12 I Need To Know