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Gary Allan ~ The One
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I got these reviews from and they are written by J.W. Cumming. He has got a talent for writing.

Gary Allan is making Rings around Country
by jwcumming </user-jwcumming> | Aug 22 '00

Pros: Best Tracks - 2, 3, 7, 9
Cons: Next Best Tracks (hey, there aren't any bad ones!!) - 1, 5, 8, 10
Recommended: Yes

Gary Allan has weathered the underrated storms of reviews on his first two albums from the "professional critics." I hope they see the light on Gary's third attempt to silence them with this album, "Smoke Rings in the Dark."

The first track (which was also the first release) is a wonderful, uniquely phrased ballad that tells of a lover leaving. Usually, you hear the "She left me" ballad. This one tells of the sadness of having to leave. And it works wonderfully. Combine Gary's uniquely recognizable voice with wonderful classical guitar harmonies and you have a wonderful song that will warrant the repeat button's usage.

The next track picks up the pace a little with an ode to life of the traveling businessman. This one gets the best of the stuffy white collar world. That's the only way to describe the subject's lamenting of what he left to help the overpaid supervisor's wallet grow. The dynamics and forcefulness of Gary's rasp is at it's best here.

The third track is "Don't Tell Mama." This song will make you think twice about drinking and driving. The imagery of the soulful and mournful tone that only Gary Allan could pull off. Others have tried, but Gary's distinguishable vocals drive it home. It's also a great slow Texas two step. The fiddles and steel guitar add to the soulful waning of the narrator's tale.

The fourth track keeps the medium pace with the second release, "Loving You Against My Will." His vocals remind me of a favorite off his first outing, "From Where I'm Sitting." His whining voice is begging for sympathy and you feel the pain. This pain is different though. This pain is one of being in love with someone you know you shouldn't be anymore, at all. A feeling I'm sure we have all felt at once. By now, if you haven't heard any of Gary Allan's music before, you will notice the similiar tone and sounds of the background harmonies and rhythms that will make his music live through the ages.

The next track has an almost Stray Cats feel to it. You can envision some guy plucking away at a cello, a jazz drummer with a big cigarette hanging out of his mouth, and the gyrating of the singer in a smokey hole in the wall. "Sorry" has an almost jocular tone to it setting you up for the end. This album has more twists than a road through the Rockies. This song will get your fingers tapping on the steering wheel and singing at the top of your lungs at a stoplight. (It was embarrassing, I can't sing. At all. Like a cat in heat dying. Should have left the vocals to Gary.)

Track 6 slows back down a little with "Crying for Nothin'." This is one of the (hate to use this term) weaker tracks on the CD. This is one of the lesser fantastic songs. The harmonies are smooth, but almost Mark Wills-ish. If it wasn't for Gary's distinctive rasp and whine, you might think it was one of the new Mall-rat-attracting-fly-by-night acts. Gary is anything but. He makes this song great with the outpouring of emotion in his vocals.

Track 7 takes on a familiar tone and keeps us in touch with Gary's traditional roots. "Bourbon Borderline" is one of my favorite songs on the CD. It has that "tear in you beer (or bourbon in this case)" trait that only country can pull off. The liquid courage with the lost love hits home for many and I can see being a big request on Late Night Love Songs if they release it.

Track 8 is a jumpy cover of the Del Shannon hit "Runaway" that was one of the most popular requested songs while I was DJing at my club in Korea. He does an incredible job keeping the beach twang true, the soulfulness of the lamenting, and singability of the lyrics. You can't help but sing along with it. It was tough to hear the music over the crowds singing over it in the club. Another one of my favorites on the CD.

The next song is my favorite. "Learning to Live with Me" is a song that holds dear to anyone who has held themselves to an unattainable standard and had trouble dealing with it. Country has always been my favorite because it can affect you mind, body, and soul. This is a prime example. I have walked in the shoes of the narrator. "Is anyone really satisfied with who they really are / You could be the moon and still be jealous of the stars / you gotta learn to swim if you can't walk upon the sea / so I'm learning to live with me." Enough said. You get the idea. Check this track out for a reality check. You'll walk away smiling with motivation.

"Cowboy Blues" is a happy little tune despite the lyrics. It has a very stereotypical sound that you don't hear often. Like so many of his other songs, his roots come out. This song takes on an almost Roger Miller feel to it combined with Billy the Kid attitude.

"I'm the One" continues with the traditionalism that has become so prevalent though not so much in the forefront as earlier tracks. The soulful of Gary's singing is still there, but the fiddle cries a little more on this one.

The CD ends with "Greenfields." This song is comprable to Chris LeDoux's "Western Skies." The only difference is this one has a romantic feel to it. The imagery makes you long for the home of your youthful, flaming romantic days. "Do you feel the way I feel, when you see greenfields?" If not, listen to the steel guitar in this song. You will feel the torment then.

Gary Allan's third album is even better than his first two. I can't wait to see what the next album puts forth. He keeps getting better. Hopefully, he will start getting the recognition he deserves. He is by far the most underrated country artist out there. Buy the album and you'll see why he needs to be given the chance to be a new Prince of Country.


buy this used heart
by jwcumming </user-jwcumming> | Mar 03 '00 (Updated May 23 '00)

Pros: Every track is fantastic
Cons: only half hour of music
Recommended: Yes

Gary Allan's debut album is an outstanding mix of classic country, with a modern country twang. You can tell his roots run deep, inspirations possibly coming from the likes of Bob Wills and Roger Miller with a little bit of Outlaw country coming through.

The album kicks off with a nice Texas Two Step in "Send Back My Heart. Your hands will be tapping, head bobbing like a little puppy dog in a truck window. There are many tempo changes between songs and the first one will be seen now. After getting your blood pumping, Gary is going to slow things way down with his first hit, "Her Man," a self-confessing and love-professing ballad. Clichés fill most of the lyrics but it works very well.

The pace picks back up with "Forever and a Day." This song has a fantastic video as well; Gary has this cloud that continuously pours rain on him. This song has an almost oxymoron feel to it. It has this happy little beat and incredibly mournful lyrics. And, its one of the best tracks on the CD. The pace keeps up with a fantastic swing, "Living in a House of Love." This song would be fantastic live as well.

Time for a slow song, and "All I Had Going is Gone" is an incredible waltz. Its a tear-in-your-beer, heart-ripping waltz that would have been an incredible release. But, Gary Allans now-trademark rasp is showcased in spotlighted fashion on this song.

Time to get back to a fun little West-Coast Swing in the title track, "Used Heart for Sale." This song takes on the name game similar to George Straits "All my Exs Live in Texas" and Mark Chestnutts "Old Flames Have New Names." This song takes on a different view. Gary even lets out a little yodel at the end.

The next track is "Of All the Hearts." This number takes on an Hank, Sr. feel to it. A little dry, but not a bad track. Its just not one of the stronger songs on the CD. But thats okay, the next track more than makes up for it. "From Where Im Sitting," the next track more than makes up for what its predecessor lacked. This song is a slow one, but Im sure every guy has been in the chair the subject of the song is in. "From where Im sitting I can see where I stand / Shes got her head on his shoulder and her heart in is hand / Things are pretty clear when a fool understands / Lord, from where Im sitting I can see where I stand." True regret always brings about a clarifying state of mind.

Time to pick it back up with "Wine Me Up." This song will wake you up and get you singing loud. This song has a great Texas Swing feel to it and the last verse is rather humorous. You have to listen very carefully to it. Unfortunately, this CD has to end, but the last track, "Wake Up Screaming," is fantastic and features some incredible guitar work in it. Very bluesy; B.B. King would be proud.

This album is an excellent freshman outing and is fun to compare to his other two albums "It Would Be You" (sophomore album) and "Smoke Rings In the Dark" (his latest.) The progression he has made is fantastic. Consider the fact that this album was outstanding and the other two are better and better. I cant wait for whats next.