Kris Allen Releases New Single 'Waves,' Talks Recovery After Devastating Car Crash: I Thought I Might Never Play Guitar Again

The Idol alum's new album Letting You In drops March 18

Photo: Ashtin Paige

Kris Allen‘s back, and he’s ready to make some “Waves.”

The American Idol alum will release his fifth full-length album Letting You In on March 18, and PEOPLE has an exclusive first listen to its upbeat, lovesick first single “Waves.”

“It was actually the first song I wrote for this record, and it definitely inspired the rest of the album,” Allen, 30, tells PEOPLE of the track.

Something else that’s inspired his new tunes: In 2013, he and his wife Katy – who was pregnant with their first child, son Oliver, at the time – were in a debilitating car crash that shattered his right wrist. Three years and several surgeries later, the limb’s function has returned – a major improvement from an originally bleak diagnosis.

“Not to get too gruesome, but my hand looked crazy, and I was like: ‘Oh, I may not play again,'” Allen tells PEOPLE of the injury.

An accomplished guitarist and pianist, the Idol champ was in denial after the accident.

“I was like, ‘You will be fine: Get over it. Just get better,’ and I spent another year just trying to forget about it,” says the singer, who had to relearn how to play the the guitar after his injury. “In the past two years just really focusing on playing because I had to learn how to play differently. Now, I will say that I feel like I’ve become better.”

Despite the struggle, he’s moving on with a new lease on his career, life – and family.

“I mean, thank God nothing worse happened. My wife was in the car with our son, and it could’ve been so much worse,” says Allen, who will welcome his second child later this year. “You fight through things and get through them, and I’d like to say I’m a better person for it.”

Letting You In is available for pre-order on iTunes Friday.

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