With "American Idol" approaching its end in eight days, I'm just going to gorge on "Idol" items. If there's a time to let me indulge, this is it.
So here's my interview with Kris Allen, season 8 winner, who will be performing this Friday, April 1 at Eddie's Attic. (It's sold out!) He's the fourth "Idol" winner to make a stop in Atlanta for a concert following Fantasia, David Cook and Carrie Underwood .
But the modest, good-natured Arkansas native and Nashville resident is not the type to obsess about comparing himself to others.
"Adam is really coming to his own," Allen said. "He's broken out beyond his niche. He was big internationally from the beginning. It's great to see more American fans as well. He's one of the best singers out there. He blows me away."
Allen' s upbeat singer-songwriter style isn't nearly as distinctive as Lambert's theatrical showiness, but he has managed to make a respectable living as a touring artist. He just released his fourth album "Letting You In" and his spring tour begins this week. Atlanta is his second stop.
"It does take us a second to really kind of get into a great groove and make changes to the set," Allen said last week. "But I will say that we are doing rehearsals for this one than ever before. Maybe we'll be in a better groove by then."
He will be at Eddie's Attic for a third time. Other fellow "Idols" who enjoy visiting that space include Crystal Bowersox, Lee DeWyze and Paul McDonald (June 7).
"It's a great vibe there," Allen said. "Everyone that works there is great. They know what they're doing. People make whole records at Eddie's Attic. It's a very cool audience. It's almost like a listening room."
He has wisely timed his album release to publicity surrounding the end of "American Idol" Thursday, April 7.
"These songs feel more honest than anything I've done before," he said. "Right after 'Idol,' I had to learn how to record and write songs. Over the past few years, I've become more confident. I've surrounded myself with people who are far better than me. My life's goal was to fit into the music industry. That means you have to get better."
It's also why he chose to live in Nashville, which has a vast factory of writers and producers. "It's a very challenging community. There is so much talent. But we are also looking out for each other, supporting each other. I've gotten some great feedback about this album."
"I don't know if they've listened to to all the lyrics," he said. "There is a darker side of Kris Allen. But I've tried to take things in a positive way. It's okay that it's not all okay. It will get better. I can't say my life sucks. It doesn't. My life is really good. I have a beautiful family. I have people who support me, great friends. I don't have anything to cry about."
"Can you imagine me doing a break-up song like Adele?" he added. "I've been married for seven years!"
Allen faced a major setback three years ago: a damaged wrist after a head-on car collision. He had to tour that spring in a cast and sing without his trusted guitar. Since then, he said he only has 30 percent motion with his wrist, which still aches at times. But he was able to play the instrument again.
And forced to focus on the guitar so much, "in a weird way I'm a lot better than I used to be."
He will attend the series finale in L.A. next week though he can't say what he'll actually do. (Most likely, he'll be teamed with other "Idol" alums in a medley.)
He is looking forward to hanging out with the other alums. He especially likes seven 7 runner-up David Archuleta. "I love talking to that dude," he said. "He's just the sweetest kid."
Allen recently turned 30. He got a surprise gift from his wife Katy: a fire pit. "I light that thing up so much, my neighbors must hate me because it always smells like smoke from my end."
I asked if some rich shiek has ever offered him a gazillion dollars to play his daughter's Sweet Sixteen. No. But he did get to do a USO tour last year to sing for the troops - in Italy and Portugal. "We got the cush gig," he said. "We played a show, ate some spaghetti! I was okay with that!"
Though he and Lambert aren't tight buddies, he stays in touch with third-place finisher from his year Danny Gokey, who landed a No. 1 hit on the Christian pop charts not too long ago. "He's found his voice and his place in the music industry," he said. "I don't listen to a lot of Christian music but when I flip through the radio and hear his voice, it just stands out. He's just so talented! You can hear the genuineness of what he's doing."
And he hopes Allison Iraheta (who finished fourth season 8) will get to do more than be a back-up singer on "Idol," her current gig. He heard her solo last year in the Hotel Cafe [in L.A.] and she blew him away. "When you hear her on the show, it's interesting. I can hear her before I even hear the lead singer singing. She has such a distinct voice. Maybe it's because I know her so well but I can point that out."
My Power 4 for the week:
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