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Kris Allen's post-'American Idol' debut CD

"American Idol" Kris Allen performs at Nassau Coliseum

"American Idol" Kris Allen performs at Nassau Coliseum during the AI tour. (Aug. 11, 2009) Credit: Newsday / Ana P. Gutierrez

Kris Allen is an earnest, likable guy, and it's a victory for him that his post-"American Idol" debut remains earnest and likable, despite all the ill-fitting ballads and unnecessary glop piled on him. Allen is at his best on his own "Red Guitar," with its chiming guitars and heartfelt vocals that signal his true connection to its emotions. Sure, he can sing conventional pop-rock like The Script's "Live Like We're Dying" and "Written All Over My Face" just fine, but he can't pretend enough to sell songs that feel foreign to him. It's an "Idol" time-crunch aberration that he has to even try. With any luck, his future projects won't make him try that again.

KRIS ALLEN

"Kris Allen"

THE GRADE B-

BOTTOM LINE "Idol" makes best of a tough situation

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