Kris Allen recording new album in Nashville

Brian Mansfield
Kris Allen plays guitar in the control room of producer Charlie Peacock's Nashville recording studio. Allen, the 2009 winner of "American Idol" began recording his third album this week.

"You're getting to hear one of the weird ones."

Kris Allen's in Charlie Peacock's Nashville recording studio, where the 2009 American Idol winner started recording his third album Wednesday. The song currently under construction is a two-chord, groove-based number with the working title of Paul Simon.

"It may change, it may stay the same," Allen says of the title. He has occasionally played it at shows, he says, and even though it doesn't have a traditional structure, or, really, anything resembling a chorus, it goes over well live.

Peacock, who has produced albums by the Civil Wars, Switchfoot and many others, is building the rhythm track from the percussion up — hand drums, then a subtle gong, a shaker with what sounds like some keys attached, a rainstick, and finally, the drum kit. Peacock's trying to complement Allen's vocals, which have already been recorded, rather than make Allen sing over full band tracks.

"My mission is to have his voice way up front," Peacock says. "We already have an established artist. We know people love his voice. So we don't want to make it compete with anything."

Allen and Peacock connected by email through a mutual friend. Before they started their sessions Wednesday, Peacock set Allen up with several Nashville writers to work on new material.

"I thought I had good songs before," Allen says, "but I spent a week here and wrote two songs a day, pretty much," collaborating with Tenth Avenue North vocalist Mike Donahey, Cindy Morgan, K.S. Rhoads and other Nashville writers.

As of Friday afternoon, they'd laid down tracks on four or five songs, including Paul Simon and two new ones called In Time and Beautiful and Wild. Allen and Peacock plan to spend most of the next month working on the new music, but they're taking their time.

"We're trying to give Kris a different experience, experimenting, playing in the sandbox," Peacock says. "For right now, it's just playing and seeing what you can come up with."