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Album Review

With Kris Allen, the winner of American Idol Season 8, what you see is exactly what you get. His soft-spoken, aw-shucks personality has yielded a collection of likeable, if underwhelming, songs that evenly split the difference between pop and rock. (Stylistically, think matchbox twenty and OneRepublic.) A few tracks proffer encouragement when it comes to life’s inevitable roadblocks, but the majority focus on love. As The New York Times reviewer Jon Caramanica observes, Allen’s self-titled debut is "a seamless continuation of his Idol run."

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

On album opener "Live Like We’re Dying," Allen ponders, "How come we don’t say I love you enough?" and asks, "So if your life flashed before you, what would you wish you would’ve done?" His answer? "If every second counts on a clock that’s tickin’/Gotta live like we’re dying." In a similar vein, two tracks ("Let It Rain" and "Lifetime") encourage perseverance and optimism during tough times. "Living doesn’t come first try," he says on the latter. "It takes a lifetime getting it right." Allen also insists that "the scars on my heart … prove that I’m still alive." "Need to Know" edges up against an idea that could be construed as an allusion to his Christian faith. "Can you hear what I’m sayin’?" he asks someone, perhaps God. "Want to see your face/ … Can you show me?/Can you make me believe?/I need to know."

The balance of the album oscillates between sentimental odes to love and earnest examinations of failing romances. In the former category there are lyrics like this one from "Can’t Stay Away": "Girl, you make me come unglued/I don’t know what you did to me." A bit more complex is "Red Guitar," a tune about how a lady’s favorite beat-up six string makes beautiful music—a symbol for a loving relationship ("The sound it makes/It takes me to some higher place"). Repairing bad communication is the theme of "Written All Over My Face." Four songs ("Bring It Back," "Before We Come Undone," "The Truth," "Is It Over") wonder whether rocky relationships can somehow still be salvaged. On the last of those tracks, for example, Allen asks, "If I crawl on my knees/To rewrite our story tonight/Would you care?"

Objectionable Content

We hear (mildly) sexually suggestive lines on "Can’t Stay Away" ("Twenty-four hours a day/Ain’t really enough, no way/To get to know you/From head-to-toe you/ … Please baby, don’t make me wait/I’m at your door/I need more"). He also confesses his inability to keep from looking at an attractive girl on "Alright With Me" ("I can’t control my eyes around you"). The titular "Red Guitar" has "been through h‑‑‑."

Summary Advisory

There’s really very little on Kris Allen’s debut that might offend the sensibilities of the many fans who voted for him on American Idol. That said, there’s also little here that reflects the perspective of someone who’s a) happily married and b) a committed Christian (Allen served for a time as an assistant music director at his church in Conway, Ark.).

That may seem a strange criticism of an album that has few genuine content problems. But I had hoped that Allen’s debut might reveal a bit more evidence of his faith and deliver something deeper than generic love songs and generic breakup songs. Still, I’ll take Kris Allen’s material over fellow Season 8 Idol alum Adam Lambert’s saucy offerings any day.

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

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Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range









This self-titled debut came in at No. 11 on Billboard’s album chart.

Record Label





November 17, 2009

On Video

Year Published



Adam R. Holz

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