Album Review

Kris Allen, 'Kris Allen'

November 16, 2009

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Kris Allen Kris Allen
ESSENTIAL “Alright With Me’’

It’s tough to say that “American Idol’’ winner Kris Allen’s debut is disappointing because it’s just the type of record anyone who watched the show last season would expect him to make. It’s a polite mix of soft rock with hints of boundary jumping that, unfortunately, never truly come. There’s really nothing wrong with the set; it’s sweetly executed and produced. Allen sings well but shows little of the expressiveness he needs to give real meaning to the songs of yearning or loss (“The Truth’’). Nothing sticks, and generic tracks like “Can’t Stay Away’’ or “Bring It Back’’ just seem to evaporate. It’s odd because on “American Idol,’’ Allen possessed a sense of daring, yet little of that is revealed here. He does co-write most of the 13 songs, and one of the best, “Red Guitar,’’ belongs to him alone. He shows some giddy-up on “Alright With Me,’’ and his cover of Kanye West’s “Heartless’’ is included only now with sonic embellishment. It’s that kind of adventure you’re left wanting more of. Instead we get a line like, “You never know a good thing till it’s gone’’ on “Live Like We’re Dying.’’ Not only is Joni Mitchell smirking, but so is Tim McGraw. Allen can and, most likely, will do better, but he has to figure out a musical direction that will help him make his own strong statement. (Out tomorrow) KEN CAPOBIANCO