Giving Thanks For Kris Allen’s ‘Thank You Camellia’
There's an old adage in the music business that goes something like this: You have a lifetime to make your first album, and six months to make your second. But of course, if you're an "American Idol" contestant, and especially if you're an "Idol" winner, the opposite is true: Just five months after Kris Allen won "Idol" Season 8, his self-titled post-"Idol" debut was out in time for the holiday shopping rush. However, Kris waited two and a half years to follow up that effort with his new album, Thank You Camellia. And now, almost three years to the date of his "Idol" victory, he reenters a fickle marketplace already crowded with Idols (Camellia comes out the day before a new "AI" champ is named, in fact) and yet another John Mayer record.
But you know what? Thank You Camellia was well worth the wait. I wholeheartedly thank Kris, and the powers-that-be, for taking their time with one--and while I'm at it, I want to thank this Camellia chick, too.
Actually, Camellia is not a person, but Kris's home-away-from-home in Los Angeles, the city where much of the Arkansas troubadour's new album was recorded. And it's a fitting album title, because there's a homespun, cozy quality to the entire disc, from its sweet opening track "Better With You," which begins with the hushed sound of Kris tip-toeing up to his piano bench, taking a seat, and exhaling before starting to play; to its acoustic companion EP (which features the knee-slapping rockabilly throwdown "Shut That Door," otherwise known to diehard fans as "The BBQ Song"); to even the CD art (a sun-dappled shot of a "Camellia Ave." street sign on the back, a precious pose by Kris's own pet French bulldog Zorro on the front, and even three booklet pages dedicated to thanking fans by name). The sterility that unfortunately plagues so many produced-by-committee "Idol" albums is nowhere to be heard on the warm and earthy Camellia, thankfully, and so it is an album that simply draws the listener right in. It's the ideal vibe for the type of unassuming Idol who likes to play impromptu busking concerts on the beach and has never erected any sort of wall between himself and his fans, and for a "guy-next-door" who seems practically unchanged since the day he first humbly shuffled into the "Idol" audition room in his newsboy cap and plaid button-down.