Kris Allen’s introduction came in January of 2009, on the eighth season of American Idol. He won that year despite, as he says, the fact that “I didn’t have some huge voice, big personality, or compelling backstory that made you want to watch.” But aside from mild chart success with singles from his post-victory debut, Allen hasn’t developed much of an identity. Unfortunately, Letting You In, his fourth post-Idol LP, is unlikely to help.
His honeyed vocals, a fine instrument that’s oddly reminiscent of Brit breakout James Bay, gooses these tunes along fine enough, but lyrically, his relentless cheerfulness can be tiresome. “You can’t go looking for love/’Cause love will find you” he sings on the sunny album-opener. Later, on the strummy “Way Up High,” he’s inspired by gazing out of his plane window. “Has the world gone wild?” he wonders over delicate chorales. “Because from way up here it’s a beautiful sight.” Nothing wrong with any of those sentiments, of course, but after 37 minutes, you’d wish he’d share a bit of a darker side.