Anyone who follows American Idol will know that latest winner Kris Allen, with his ever-present acoustic guitar, is a gentle guy who sings soothing, inoffensive pop-rock. So his self-titled debut may come as a surprise, with its fresh, funky tracks.
Co-writing nine of the 13 songs, Allen is certainly a competent musician; but the input of top hit-makers waters down the 'Allen element', no doubt leaving fans disappointed at the lack of acoustic soft rock the singer became famous for.
Luckily, his expressive, solid vocals keep the record from becoming yet another soulless, forgettable pop-rock record.
It kicks off with lead single Live Like We're Dying, a radio-friendly number with infectious hooks, penned by The Script. This, along with their Written All Over My Face, sound so much like something the Irish band might have sung, not even Allen's distinct voice can prevent them from sounding like covers.
The simple Red Guitar, a song Allen wrote for his wife, is tender, and the most personal song here. This, and the jaunty Alright With Me by The Fray's Joe King are the best efforts. The passionate Bring It Back shows off Allen's vocal strength, while the funky Can't Stay Away is also worthwhile.
Given Allen's obvious talent, it's a shame this isn't a more personalised collection rather than just a set of insta-hits.
YP rating: 3/5