If you didn’t pay close attention to American Idol Season 8, you can be forgiven for thinking that Kris Allen came in second to Adam Lambert. After all, Lambert is the one who grabbed all the headlines and magazine covers, while Allen plugged along as the cute, safe alternative to the self-styled glamazon, which was enough for him to take the crown, if not enough to create much excitement. Then again, Kris Allen isn’t about excitement, he’s about comfort, something that’s plainly evident on his immaculate, eponymous debut, an album every bit as unexpected as his name. Allen possesses an easy touch, so easy that he doesn’t seem to leave an imprint, other than making already pleasant surroundings seem a touch friendlier. Kris may be so happy to be here, that he isn't bothered that, apart from a rhythmic hip-hop inflection learned from Jason Mraz, he isn't too connected to his times, either. Instead, he’s a throwback to a decade earlier, when singers like Tal Bachman and Shawn Mullins had AAA hits and nobody cared if they were songwriters. Allen pens almost all of the 12 songs here (the exceptions being “Live Like We’re Dying,” “Written All Over My Face,” “The Truth”), which unifies the album to a degree, although he was already well on his way to being the first American Idol finalist to totally disregard a younger audience, yet still feel somewhat modern (compared to the Billy Joel/Steve Winwood hybrid of Taylor Hicks and Clay Aiken’s Neil Sedaka/Barry Manilow tribute, Kris Allen seems downright dangerous). Unhip it may be by design, at least Kris Allen delivers the goods: it’s tuneful and likeable, melodic enough to merit a close listen, ready to slip into the background at a moment’s notice.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine