By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "American Idol" champion Kris Allen, who once traveled the world on church missionary trips, took an equally wayfaring approach to record his new album, working in studios across the United States.
"Name a big city and I probably recorded a song there," Allen told Reuters ahead of the self-titled "Kris Allen" release on November 17.
The album, Allen's first since winning top-rated TV signing show "American Idol," was mostly written and produced while he toured the U.S. this past summer with "Idol" runner-up Adam Lambert and the other 10 finalists from the show.
The Arkansas native recorded songs in Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Milwaukee and other cities.
"It was pretty crazy, and kind of weird switching your mind from tour mode to writing and recording mode," he said.
The 24-year-old Allen was the center of a carousel of songwriters who included "Idol" alumnus Chris Daughtry and Joe King of rock band The Fray, but Allen was instrumental in penning nine of the record's 12 tracks.
One single, "Live Like We're Dying," was released in September and is currently ranked 39th in airplay on radio stations playing Top 40 music, said tracking firm Mediabase.
"It's got a really jumpy chorus that I feel people can really get into, turn the windows down in their car and sing along with it," he said.
When Allen was still a college student in 2007, he made a low budget, self-released album called "Brand New Shoes," but he said making his latest EP through 19 Recordings, a record company run by "American Idol" creator Simon Fuller, was a completely different experience.
Allen had the luxury of time, for one thing, unlike when he booked the studio himself on his first album and had only a few days to record. This time, he also included exotic instruments, including a sitar, and experimented with different styles, from pop to the blues.
Allen's "Idol" fans will recognize his cover version of rap star Kanye West's song "Heartless," which Allen performed on the show and also recorded for the album. Another track, "Red Guitar," predates Allen's "Idol" run and is the only song on the album he wrote on his own.
Before joining "American Idol," Allen traveled widely on church missionary trips, touching down in such countries as Thailand and Mozambique. Even though he said his faith is important to him, he has no plans to release an album of Christian songs.
As for the future, the singer said he hopes to go back on the road -- on an international tour.
"I have always wanted to go to Australia," he said. "I've been to a lot of places, but I never have been there."
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)