Calle Kristiansson, the 21-year-old rocker from Kristianstad, Sweden, made his eponymous full-length album debut within weeks of winning second place on Idol 2009, finishing runner-up to another 21-year-old rocker, Erik Grönwall. Grönwall made his own eponymous debut around the same time as Kristiansson, and the rivalry between the two carried over from television to the marketplace. Once again, Grönwall was a step ahead of Kristiansson, releasing his album a week earlier and topping the Swedish charts with "Higher." Both Kristiansson and Grönwall had sung "Higher," a song written especially for Idol 2009 by Pär Westerlund and Joakim Olovsson, on the season finale episode. Grönwall took claim of "Higher" after winning first place, however, and subsequently took the song to the top of the Swedish singles chart. Kristiansson is left empty-handed on his full-length album debut, singing 11 cover songs, some of them quite good, but without an original song along the lines of "Higher." The closest Kristiansson comes to a signature song on his full-length debut is the album-closing "Walking in Memphis," a soulful version of American singer/songwriter Marc Cohn's 1991 breakout hit. "Walking in Memphis" was one of Kristiansson's more memorable performances on Idol, and indeed, all of the 11 songs on Calle Kristiansson were originally performed on the show, making this album something of a rehash. Some of the covers turn out really well, in particular the first few songs, all of them rockers: "Hungry Heart" (Bruce Springsteen), "Are You Gonna Go My Way" (Lenny Kravitz), and "Here I Go Again" (Whitesnake). Kristiansson spaces out all the rock songs with a few ballads, the best of which is "To Be with You" (Mr. Big), and there's a peppy, two-minute burst of Tom Jones sequenced mid-album. Kristiansson is nevertheless at his best when he's rocking out, and fortunately, there's a lot of that heard on his eponymous album debut. Too bad there's not a version of "Higher" or another original song along the same lines.
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier