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Soaring to the height of American Idol’s eighth season with his boy next door looks and underrated ability to breathe new life into previously recorded material, Arkansas native Kris Allen jumps out of the nest and spreads his wings to fly on his self-titled major label debut, which is being released via Jive Records.

Filled with tunes dissecting the adventures and emotions of relationships, for Allen this body of work represents the journey of his time on the road. “Name a big city and I probably recorded a song there,” Kris says. “It was pretty crazy, and kind of weird switching your mind from tour mode to writing and recording mode.”

A journey that the Southern cutie hopes will only expand, “I have always wanted to go to Australia,” he said. “I’ve been to a lot of places, but I never have been there.”

Track-by-Track Analysis:

“Live Like We’re Dying”:
On the lead single, which Allen describes as “jumpy”, he urges you to live life and say things like “I love you”, while you have the chance. Originally sung by The Script, it is complete with a nice message, a deathly infectious hook and effectively served as safe introduction to the star, given it falls in line with his appearances on Idol.

“Before We Become Undone”:
A well-constructed record about mending a broken relationship before it lacks the ability of being repaired. Written by Allen with Lindy Robbins and Greg Kurstin, it strives in all aspects and ends as a definite highlight.

“Can’t Stay Away”:
“Twenty-fours hours a day ain’t nearly enough,” he sings on the Mike Elizondo production about being obsessively enthralled with someone. An extremely nice track that wins you over with its killer and infectious hook.

“The Truth”:
“Honesty is honestly the hardest thing for me right now,” he sings on the Toby Gad production about avoiding the realization of the current state of a relationship.

Done mainly because he doesn’t want to digest it, he puts on facade by trying to be perfect and keep those feelings and the truth concealed. The track plays out really beautiful and Allen’s transitions from tender to forceful are top-notch, which easily secure this one a place on the winner’s list.

“Written All Over My Face”:
Never one to completely “spell it out”, this bouncy cut details a guy who can’t seem to find the words to vocalize his thoughts, so he plays records to convey his emotions and lets his actions speak louder than words. The overall content of the track is solid (lyrics, production and vocals), but there’s simply nothing to brag about.

“Bring It Back”: Driven by a piano, he acknowledges forgetting to supply love, but urges her to “bring it back” and give him another shot to make what was destined to be succeed. Written by Allen with the help of Francis White, this is the prime example of him completely getting it right and engaging the audience with both his penmanship skills, as well as, his touching delivery. Simply superb.

“Red Guitar”: Written solely by Allen before his Idol run, he metaphorically declares being changed by the face of a red guitar and becoming a better man because of that meeting. Well written and equipped with a superb melody, which once again speaks volumes about Kris as an artist.

“Is It Over”: Unveiling a simple yet complex question (“Is It Over?”), he seeks to discover whether it will deliver him any justice to put up a fight and is already too late as he concludes with, “Are you already gone”. It has a slight bluesy feel to it, which he channels exceptional well with his voice, and furthermore, it reaffirms to us that Allen didn’t win by playing it safe or being a one trick pony.

“Let It Rain”: “Let the rain keep falling down,” he sings on the track about not letting outside influences stop you from completing or following your dreams. It plays out really nicely and he takes a few chances with his delivery as he ranges from light to breathy to belting, all of which are well-executed.

“Alright With Me”:
Co-written by The Fray’s Joe King, it has laid-back, carefree vibe to it and marks another risk for the singer, unfortunately this one doesn’t deliver dividends.

“Lifetime”: Fully aware that the game of life isn’t something figured out on first try, but rather something that takes a lifetime, he documents that reality on this track. It’s a nicely put together cut and the building phases around the hook give it an added sense of dramatic flare.

“I Need to Know”: Laced with a piano, this particular cut places Allen at his most vulnerable state as he acquires answers that are clearly already laid out in front of him. He delivers the words with rawness and the imperfection in his vocals is actually what takes the record past the finish line.

“Heartless”: While nothing tops his live delivery of the Kanye West remake, he revamps the cut for the album and once again leaves his predecessors in his trail. There’s not much more that can be said about this track, it was brilliant the first time and its position doesn’t change here.

Final Verdict:
With Allen helping pen 9 of the album’s 13 tracks, his debut outing gives you a firmer grasp of his artistry and although the music can feel a little bland at times, it is Allen who saves the show with his undisputed confidence and lovable personality, both of which leak through the album.

As he displayed on the show, Kris really knows the bounds of his voice and lifts material around it that might otherwise be deemed forgettable. He takes risks and although they may not always pay off, that is the key ingredient towards the making of great and long-term artist.

3.5 out of 5

Celebrity Bug’s Key Tracks:
“Live Like We’re Dying”, “Before We Become Undone”, “The Truth”, “Bring It Back”, “ I Need to Know”, “Is It Over” & “Heartless”.

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