Former ‘Idol' winner Kris Allen performs at High Dive tonight
Published: Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 8:57 a.m.
This past fall, Kris Allen joined the likes of Lee DeWyze and David Cook as former “American Idol” winners that no longer have deals with RCA Records, the label that has signed many of that television show's winners and top contenders.
Allen was just two albums into his career when he split with RCA. His second album, “Thank You Camellia,” was released this past May.
But if Allen is discouraged by the turn of events or bitter toward RCA, he didn't show it in a recent phone interview.
“It was pretty much a mutual thing, it feels like,” Allen said of his departure from RCA. “I had a great run there. They did a lot for me at RCA and I have a lot of really good friends and also mentors there and people that I really respect. I'm not going to say we didn't butt heads at all because we did. But I don't think that's very uncommon when it comes to artists and labels. There's just a nice feeling now. It sounds cliché, but like a (feeling of) freedom that you can make your own music.”
Allen is certainly not slinking away into the sunset now that his days on RCA are over. He's starting 2013 with the most extensive headlining tour of his career, a run that stops tonight at High Dive and continues through February.
The tour, Allen said, is part of a shift in strategy for building his career — away from trying to get radio play to generate hit songs and more toward building a grass roots following by concentrating more on touring.
“I feel like doing live shows is the thing that I'm best at,” Allen said. “People come out impressed. And we put a ton into our live show.
“That's how you build real fans anyway,” he said. “When you're fans of someone like a singer/songwriter, when you go seem them play, you become a bigger fan.”
Playing in a trio format (Allen sings and plays guitar and piano), his show is tailored toward making that kind of connection with his concert-goers.
“It just feels like you're getting more of my personality, because there's a lot of crowd interaction where I like talk to specific fans and play to specific people and make them feel like they're really getting a personal show for them,” Allen said.
In addition to the tour, Allen is writing for a third album, which he might start recording as soon as March. And he hopes to further define himself musically and lyrically with that next release.
As it is, he feels “Thank You Camellia” offered a better picture of his songwriting and style than his 2009 self-titled first album did.
With the second album, Allen co-wrote all 12 songs and had far more input on how the songs were produced, making it a better representation of the music he wants to make.
“I think you kind of get to see some different sides of me,” Allen said, noting that he wrote lyrics that were more personal and revealing. “I feel like I let people in on that second record a little bit more than on the first one.”
Allen said he wants to carve out a niche as an artist who can write strong material in a variety of styles. “Thank You Camellia” hints at that approach, as its songs include the gently grooving, soulful pop of “Better With You,” breezy Jason Mraz-ish pop with “My Weakness” and ”Loves Me Not,” a funky, hip-hop laced tune in “Rooftops.”
“I'm not trying to write in a genre,” he said. “I don't even know if there are genres anymore, honestly, except for pop and country ... I think I'm just trying to write great songs. If it ends up sounding like a country song or if it ends up sounding like a pop song, then that's what it is.”
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