Kris Allen’s new album is set to arrive on March 18, but the American Idol season eight winner is letting fans in early with the exclusive Billboard premiere of the lead-off track, “Love Will Find You”.
The dreamy, intricate song’s chorus about how one “can’t go looking for love” sets the tone early for Allen’s fifth studio album, Letting You In.
“Love Will Find You” — a soulful piece about close encounters — is an intimate track, but one particular line about how “a friend of a friend might introduce you/ next thing you know you’re eating sushi” caught the attention of Allen’s wife, Katy.
“My wife calls this song the sushi song,” he laughs. “She picks out her own titles for each song. This one was called the sushi song.”
The Arkansas native said the song (co-written by Josh Jenkins of Green River Ordinence) is “a message to yourself or a friend” to hang in there in the search for love.
“I know people go searching for it and are really trying to find it,” he said. “The whole thing is the moment that you stop, it’s going to find you. I know that’s what happened for me. Every relationship is different. But I think that for the most part, it is that moment that you stop looking that happens.”
When crafting Letting You In, Allen recorded in Nashville with producers Konrad Snyder (Mat Kearney, Owl City, Milo Greene), Ian Fitchuk (James Bay, Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors, Griffin House), and Grammy Award-winner Brown Bannister (Amy Grant, Kenny Rogers, Steven Curtis Chapman) to create an album that explores “both the bright and dark elements of everyday life.”
There are songs on Letting You In — like the single “Waves” — that are upbeat odes to romantic love and his young family. Allen said living in Nashville has been wonderful for the Allens, who are expecting a new arrival in June.
“We would record all day and it would be 5 o’clock and ‘see you tomorrow guys,’” he laughed. “’You mean, we’re not going to work until midnight tonight?’ Having a kid, that’s really nice to go home and put him to bed and have dinner with your family. That’s the culture there and it works for me. It’s been really great. It’s been a good move.”
Other songs are inspired by darker times. Specifically, Allen and his wife were involved in a 2013 head on collision when the couple was expecting their first child, Oliver. Allen underwent three surgeries to repair his shattered wrist, but had to relearn how to play his guitar. He said he is still working through the injury, but there has been improvement.
“There are frustrating times,” he said. “For the most part I’ve figured out how to play differently. “
One week after his accident, the singer hit the road for a tour and released the 2014 record, Horizons. When the dust finally settled, he decided to confront how the accident affected him in his music.
“There is this separate part of me that is by myself and I over-analyze things,” he said. “I feel like for the most part that I try to say no to those songs. I feel like I’ve been saying no to those songs for a long time now, but I just stopped because these songs are just punching me in the face saying, ‘hey we have to come out sometime’ so, that’s how those songs are just kind of resilient in their creation.”
Another song on the record, “If We Keep Doing Nothing,” was written the day after the mass shooting at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College. The song — described as a “throwback-soul arrangement of stark guitar tones” mixed with organ — is a stark commentary on gun violence in America.
Allen was at a friend’s house, and the shooting was fresh on his mind when he decided that “we can’t not write a song about this.”
“Just because it’s serious doesn’t mean that people don’t want to hear about it. So we did our due diligence as songwriters and wrote that song,” he said. “Months after, another shooting happened. There was a string of shootings and it felt like oh my gosh, America’s falling apart.”
While the 30-year old musician admits that he doesn’t “have the answers,” he hopes he can reach people with his music.
“If we don’t do something about it, it’s going to keep happening,” he said.
Allen is set to hit the road for a tour at the end of March, and said he is planning on being there for the season finale of American Idol. Returning to Arkansas last summer to help with judging the farewell season was a great experience, he said.
“It was fun to see a bunch of people — like some of the producers — from the show again,” he said. “It was a little scary at first judging things. I felt like, I don’t know if I should be doing this and saying no is really hard. You don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. I had a blast, it was a lot of fun.”
One thing he is proud of is the progress of La’ Porsha-Renae, who just made the Idol top 10 last night on the Feb. 24 broadcast.
“I spoke with La’ Porsha in Little Rock and she is still there and crushing it,” he said. “For some reason, I feel really proud of that. For some reason because I talked to her, maybe she made it through! I’m taking credit for it!”
He was quick to say, however, that he is supportive of everyone that has made it this far.
“I am not a huge fan of picking sides. I feel like I’ve done that before and then all of the contestants are reading that stuff. Then you go and see them and it’s like they want to know ‘why aren’t you on my side?’ So I try not to take a side,” he said. “I do think La’ Porsha has got a grip on what she wants to do and she has a powerhouse voice. But there are some great contestants this year. We’ll see what happens.”
Letting You In is currently available for pre-order on iTunes.
Tour dates kick off March 31 at the WorkPlay Theatre in Birmington, Alabama. Tickets are available online through krisallenofficial.com.