Forever heartthrob Kris Allen is ‘Letting You In’


Courtesy Claire Rex

Kris Allen is opening up with his new album Letting You In, a more personal look into his experiences. Allen is set to play a sold-out show April 14 at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave.

By Ariel Parrella-Aureli

Kris Allen is still livin’ like he’s dyin’. The Arkansas singer, known to the world as “American Idol’s” Season 8 winner, is touring and performing his fourth album, Letting You In, released March 18, 2016. The 31-year-old musician and father has been steadily making music since his “Idol” debut.

Allen’s faith plays an active role in his music and helps him write emotional and powerful lyrics that connect his fans to his experiences. The Midwesterner will return to play a sold-out show at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave., April 14 with Parachute, a male pop band from Virginia.

The Chronicle spoke with Allen about his new music, “American Idol” nostalgia and his striking Chicago memories.

THE CHRONICLE: What is something new or explored with Letting You In?

KRIS ALLEN: The biggest change [is] I write lyrics first instead of music first. I am such a melody-driven guy so everything I have always done has always been trying to fit lyric to melody. I challenged myself on this record, and I think most of the [songs] happened this way—with the lyrics first and then I worked on the music. It is amazing how much, for the most part, writing the music to the lyrics is a lot easier than writing the lyrics to music, so I definitely think it will be something I keep doing. I want my lyrics to be very personal. 

What are your feelings about “Way Up High” off the new album?

This song was the second one written, and I was on a flight back home. It’s pretty autobiographical of just writing about the thoughts thrown around in my head, and it’s funny because I wrote them down and they all happened on one flight. I don’t do that ever. Lyrics are such a hard thing for me to do [and] those were just flying out, which was amazing. When that happens, it is a spiritual thing for me. I immediately got home and picked up my guitar and that song came out. That is my favorite song on the record.

How does religion play into your music?

I am always on the search for what spirituality and religion mean to me and where it has a place in my life. Sometimes it’s really important, and sometimes I forget. Songwriting is something I can’t do on my own; I like to rely on God and on spirituality to help me write songs. If I try to write on my own, it is like clockwork. I almost have to get to his defeated place where I am like, “God, please help me make good at this and write a song.” It’s amazing that it happens every single time. Looking at “Way Up High” [it shows] I’m not afraid to talk about it and say I’m getting closer to God. 

Do you still think about your experience on “American Idol”?

I have to reminisce all the time; I am forced to, but not in a bad way. Every time I think about it, I feel overwhelmed in an amazing, joyous way. The things that have happened from it have been life-changing, and it’s a dream. It feels like a lifetime ago; I look back and people show me pictures and videos like, “Can you believe this happened?” and I’m like, “That’s not the same person. I don’t think that’s me.” I am incredibly grateful I was able to be apart of the show’s history. Fifteen years is a long time; that should be celebrated.

What are your Chicago memories?

I did a show three years ago or so [at Lincoln Hall], and it’s still one of my favorite shows. It was electric. It’s hard for me to remember specific shows but I remember that show. Chicago is just—I’ve always had amazing experiences there. There’s this jazz club called the Green Mill and we go every single time we are [in Chicago]. I have spent nights dancing there, listening to amazing jazz musicians and it is always so much fun. 

I always have weird experiences there, too. I helped this guy push his car to a gas station [at 2 a.m.] and then his car blew up. No lie.