Friday, January 1, 2010

Album Review: Kris Allen - Kris Allen

I feel so vindicated right now! It looks like he validated my fantardism with this album. Ha! I got to say, this effort thoroughly exceeded my expectations. The songs here are far away from cookie-cutter! The record seems very high-quality, and doesn’t seem overproduced at all, unlike most of the post Idol’s debut albums. Also, the album flows effortlessly from song to song and there is a cohesiveness and somewhat of a story line going on.

Although he did the Fray/Rob Thomas/Maroon 5 thing, it is with a soulful twist and lots of rhythm in these songs. I am also glad that his unbelievable phrasing, which I loved during his American Idol run, is still there. His voice also sounds better than the last time I remembered. There is a bunch of higher register and falsetto in these songs and he sounds gorgeous in these parts. I had no idea that he had so many shades/levels to his voice; he says he can’t act, but his voice sure can. I believe that he is definitely starting to find his own sound here.

Here's my track-by-track review:

I am in love with this song. The melody is catchy as hell and the lyrics is great without sounding too preachy. The production of the single is a definite improvement from the original version of The Script. And as far as first post idol single for the winners, I think this ranks near the top ahead of Light On, Tattoo, Jesus Take the Wheel and even Miss Independent. 9/10

This is possibly one of my favorite tracks of the record. I think that there are some interesting, artistic little places they took in song that made it unique. I like the stuttering guitar intro and that seemingly uptempo power pop-rocker vibe. I also think that the song is really well written. Very nice. 8/10

I love this song! So unexpected, so funky, so playful so Kris if you really think about it. I think that it’s another standout track and arguably the poppiest sound on the album - the hooky infectious chorus is insane. I like the Maroon 5-ish vibe to it but still very Kris Allen. Totally surprising but worked really fine. I wouldn’t mind if this will be his next single after Live Like We’re Dying. 9/10

First thoughts: PURE WIN! His breathy vocal is lovely. I can feel that he really put a lot of himself vocally as I can hear how strong his voice has become. I like the orchestra in the chorus as it brings a sophistication to the song. I can totally hear this thing on the radio. Its angst-y and a little David Cook-ish, which is always good in my book. Ha! 9/10

Another The Script-penned song and as expected, this one sounds equally good. It is funkier and edgier than I expected. I’m actually surprised at how much I enjoyed this song! It just puts a smile on my face. I think that the record version is better than the live one and not once did I think of The Script or that it’s not written by Kris Allen. The song is sweet on its own but it is, I believe, Kris’ vocal that gives it the perfect playfulness. 9/10

The smoky piano lead in is gorgeous and the bass line in the chorus is also really cool. It’s perfect and its heart breaking. Seriously. I love its purity and softness. His voice and the way he delivers the song is stunning. I also think that the bridge is nice and the fact that he and Eg White - Chasing Pavements - cut this song in 30 minutes makes this song even more impressive. 8/10

This is just all sorts of cool! I don’t know if it’s because this is the only song penned by Kris entirely and that it was written before Idol and it’s very personal to Kris, but the melody is just so lovely, and the intro is cool. I also love the instrumental part of the song. On second listen this song reminds me of U2’s With or Without You. His vocals just spill over on the lyrics and it’s like a series of massages! Ha! 9/10

His vocals almost killed me here. Ha! Like in The Truth, I can also hear how strong his voice has become. The falsetto is unbelievably good. Very soulful, bluesy, and definitely has that John Mayer sort of feel. This track is such an awesome change of pace and mood. 8/10

Definitely a radio-friendly song. I wouldn’t be surprised if this will be picked as the elimination song on Idol next season - though I doubt it. Ha! The pretty falsetto at the end is admirable and he is really showing off his vocals on this record! One of my favorites! 9/10

Personally, this tops my list. Just from the intro alone, you know that it has that special charm and that IT. The track really got my attention because the rhythm and simplicity is so damn catchy. If you’re not swaying or bopping your head to this song, there’s something wrong with you. This song is so swoon-worthy! Loved the pulled back bridge – falsetto! FUN! This will probably be my HAPPY-GO-LUCKY-SING-ALONG-SONG. Ha! 10/10

Perhaps my least favorite track on the album but even this is more than decent – which is odd. I can definitely hear the influence from Jonathan Foreman of Switchfoot. The guitar in this song is reminiscent of Dare You To Move’s guitar work. As for the vocals, I love the soft rise and fall of Kris’ voice. Great. 6/10

If his vocals in Is It Over almost killed me, this one buried me alive. Ha! His voice is just so raw, so fragile, so melancholic and so vulnerable that he ripped me open. Insane passion, Insane!!! It is beauty, rawness and simplicity at its finest. The gentle tickling of keys. The gentle swell of his vocals. The pleading. The violins. And then back to his gentle aching vocals. EPIC PERFECTION!! 10/10

Frankly, I would have preferred the acoustic version but I really enjoy his new take on it. It sounds really cool. I think that the new version fits right in with the sound of the rest of the album. It is more energetic and it captures that angst-y emotion that is present in his acoustic one. Got flare and edge. 7/10

In general, I’ve to say that this is an IMPRESSIVE album. Even for my favorite artist’s albums, there are bound to be filler songs in them and I’m very surprised at the absence of that so-called “album fillers” in this record. It seems like all the songs on this album can be potential radio-hit. There’s a different variety of songs such as the slow to mid-tempo, emotional ballads as well as the upbeat, catchy tunes to suit everyone’s taste. The most important thing is that the lyrics in the songs are really nicely-written and meaningful.

I think he should count this as a major triumph, because this album sounds LEAGUES better than most American Idol debut albums. I hate to say this but I think I like this better than David Cook’s debut album - a record which I ABSOLUTELY LOVE. It’s a solid effort, especially for a debut idol album thrown together under intense time pressure. Good Job!

RATING: 8.5/10


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