“Maybe I’m lost, but at least I’m looking,” Kris Allen asserts on the track “Lost” of his fourth studio album Horizons. In his search, Allen has found a largely stripped-down, acoustic sound that marks a significant departure from his earlier Christian-pop entries. The resulting effort has the intimacy of a “horizon” sunset for two and showcases the vulnerability of a sincerely matured songwriter.
Working with the venerable Charlie Peacock and Richie Biggs (Switchfoot, The Civil Wars), Horizons’ overall feel is warm and serene like the imagery evoked by the album’s title and cover. The songs feel live and tangible, with the majority of the tracks carrying the easy groove of an experienced three-piece band. However, despite the weightiness of the album, Allen deftly incorporates some pop-oriented songs with refreshingly nuanced instrumental hooks, such as the head bobbing acoustic guitar work of the opening track “Young Love” and the delayed stereo juxtaposition of the guitars and keyboard in the foot-tapping “Everybody Just Wants to Dance.” “I just want to be a dreamer, a dreamer that’s wide awake” sings Allen on the track “Beautiful and Wild,” an ode to the longevity of innocence, love, and youth; three themes that carry through the ten song track list and which provide Allen’s smooth voice the apropos subject matter.
Horizons is undoubtedly a testament to songwriting and stands out as a much more musical album amongst its contemporaries. Replete with warm acoustic tones and softly sung melodies, the album is an easy cover-to-cover first listen and will be sure to command multiple listens thereafter.
Roland’s Rating: 8/10
Key Tracks: “Young Love,” “Girl Across the Room”