I’ve been listening to country singer Gary Allan’s latest album, ‘Living Hard’ the last couple of days. He has a cool voice and the songwriting and musicianship on the album is superb …
I’ve been listening to country singer Gary Allan’s latest album, ‘Living Hard’ the last couple of days. He has a cool voice and the songwriting and musicianship on the album is superb.
The ‘Living Hard’ CD is actually my first introduction to Gary Allan and his music. For some reason, I had never known too much about him before. You would think that I would have, considering that he’s been on the country music scene since 1996, when he released his first studio album, ‘Used Heart For Sale’ through Decca Records. Since then he’s released seven studio albums – with three of them going platinum as well as #1 hit singles under his belt.
There’s obviously quite a few Gary Allan fans out there, but with all that he’s done with his career, I wonder why he wasn’t high on my country music radar like other male singers in his genre? Does he not get as much attention in the media because he’s considered an outsider, as he’s originally from California? Also, his music has more of a rock edge to it than your ‘typical’ country sound – but that’s not really a new thing in modern country music.
That rock edge to Gary Allan’s music does appeal to me and he’s a bit of a chameleon – and seems to have an open mind, musically. Like the way he’s singing on “We Touched The Sun”. Makes me think that Elvis could have done that song justice as well. Then there’s “She’s So California”, with a Tom Petty vibe.
“Watching Airplanes” was the obvious right pick for the opening track and first single release off of ‘Living Hard’. It’s a great song and is most certainly worthy of a Country Music Award.
“Like It’s a Bad Thing” is ‘in the pocket’ with a rocking groove. “Learning How To Bend” could easily be a contender for a Country Music Charts hit. “Wrecking Ball” is a fun song with heavy guitar riffs, high quality musicianship, with lyrics about a guy who can’t get enough: “she blows into town, loves me up and down just to watch me fall. She picks me up and then knocks me down again I’m a wreck y’all, she’s a wreckin’ ball”.
“Yesterday’s Rain” is an outstanding ballad, and closing track “Living Hard” captures the energy of a live band playing to a packed to the rafters bar, but with the polished Nashville sound that you would expect from Gary Allan.
‘Living Hard’ – highly recommended.
Track listing with songwriting credits:
1. Watching Airplanes (Jim Beavers, Jonathan Singleton)
2. We Touched the Sun (Gary Allan, Odie Blackmon, Jim Lauderdale)
3. She’s So California (Gary Allan, Jon Randall, Jaime Hanna)
4. Like It’s a Bad Thing (Neil Thrasher, Tony Martin, Wendell Mobley)
5. Learning How to Bend (Gary Allan, Matt Warren, James LeBlanc)
6. As Long As You’re Looking Back (Scotty Emerick, Dean Dillon, Aaron Barker)
7. Wrecking Ball (Keith Gattis, Audley Freed)
8. Yesterday’s Rain (Gary Allan, Matt Warren, James LeBlanc)
9. Trying to Matter (Gary Allan, Odie Blackmon, Casey Beathard)
10. Half of My Mistakes (Radney Foster, Bobby Houck)
11. Living Hard (Gary Allan, Odie Blackmon, Bob DiPiero)
It’s raw and emotional. It’s freight-train-to-nowhere lonely. It’s hard-rockin’, no-apologies country music that has traded in its twang for a gravelly growl millions of fans recognize as the voice of Gary Allan …
It’s raw and emotional. It’s freight-train-to-nowhere lonely. It’s hard-rockin’, no-apologies country music that has traded in its twang for a gravelly growl millions of fans recognize as the voice of Gary Allan. And with ‘Living Hard’, his latest release from MCA Nashville, Allan once again proves that, though times may change, the thread of truth at the center of his music remains the same.
“I think the fans are gonna feel that this record is different,” he says, “but the most important thing is that what I do is authentic. I’ve never pushed for a certain image. I’ve just always done my own thing.”
This time around, Allan says, that includes letting listeners ride along through his personal landscape over the past year. “The record has taken about a year to make,” he says, “and I think the whole thing reflects change. I think every record sort of reflects where I’m at, and I’ve made a ton of changes this year, just mentally and in how I’m approaching everything. “Oh,” he adds with a grin, “and I think it’s much more rockin’ than anything I’ve done.”
Allan decided to crank it up musically. “I just felt like I was growing so much and wanted the music to reflect that. I think the result has more of an edge.” More edge, from the man who’s already got a reputation as a bit of a Nashville outsider? “Hopefully country music feels like they need somebody like me in the fold just to shake things up,” he laughs.
Not that this was all his idea – Allan feels some of the changes come from the fans themselves. “It’s not like I was trying for a new direction, it’s almost audience driven, too. l feel like I’ve got this young crowd with me now, I’ve got these rocker kids in my audience. And I grew up with that music, too,” says the California-bred singer, “so to me that stuff is right alongside Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings. The people really dictate the music, too. I feed off the audience, whatever they’re really wanting is what they drag out of me. I’ve got the edgy side of the country crowd – and I want to keep them.”
No danger of losing them – ‘Living Hard’ is an all-out rocker with a heavy Rolling Stones influence, and in “Like It’s a Bad Thing” he lets it rip with a song that reads like a Gary Allan bad boy manifesto. “That song does sound like me, doesn’t it?” he says. “I think if anything, that sort of renegade spirit is even more prevalent on this album. We’ve always danced to our own tune.”
Gary Allan, whose life is a whirlwind of hard-driving touring, also made a conscious decision to carve out more songwriting time for this album than ever before. “It’s the most I’ve written on any album,” he says. “I usually only write on my time off because I’m going so much that I hardly have time to ponder and sit around enough to want to write. Last year I sort of forced myself into it early so that I could write more for the record.”
He was pleased with the result: “I’m usually more critical on my stuff,” he says, “but I feel like I’m writing better, and obviously the more you’ve been through, the more you’ve got to say and the deeper you can express those emotions.”
If you’ve been to his shows, Allan says, you know that when he sings about “baring my soul for the price of your ticket,” he’s not just blowing smoke. Since his last studio album, 2005’s ‘Tough All Over’, which drew on his experiences coping with the death-by-suicide of his wife, Angela, in 2004, Allan has become known for putting all his emotions on the line in his songs. “I’m exactly the same on the stage as I am off the stage,” he says, “and what I found is, the bigger the arena, the more you’re standing in the middle of those people, the more transparent you are. You can tell when somebody’s not authentic or they’re trying to be something they’re not.”
In songs like “Learning How to Bend,” he admits he’s still exploring some rough terrain as he makes his way back into everyday life and the possibility of a new relationship. “I think my favorite song that I wrote on this album is “Learning How to Bend” he says. “I woke up one day with that title. And it’s me, you know – I’m still learning, learning how to bend.”
And in “We Touched the Sun” he moves forward while looking back at the beautiful times he shared with Angela. “There’s a small circle of us that write songs together, and it’s like group therapy,” he says with a chuckle. “And the result is it’s real. We rented a house in Costa Rica just to write, and “We Touched the Sun” is one of the songs that came out of that session. It’s a very reflective song, looking back at Angela. But it could be anybody you loved, just all the fond memories.”
Thanks in part to all of that musical therapy, says Allan, these days “I’m in a good place, definitely happy.” And, he assures his fans, if you’ve been through tough times yourself, or you’re just wondering how he’s coping these days, all you have to do is listen to his music. “I don’t really talk to people about my situation,” he says, “but I feel like since I do write about my life and where I am, you can watch me heal through my music. It’s lots easier on me, and I do hope that the music speaks to you.”
With ‘Living Hard’, Allan is sure to find his music speaking to an ever-growing number of fans. “I want to reach even bigger audiences,” he says. “I feel like I’ve got so much to say and so much to do right now and things are moving so fast. It’s great to have something new to throw at people.”
Most of all, he says, he just wants people to come along for the ride – and hear the sounds of a life in progress. “It’s a good listen, I think,” he says. “I’m excited for people to hear it. It’ll take you through a whole range of emotions, and I think it’s going to take you on a journey. That’s my goal.”
Dates could be added or changed! Go to Gary Allan’s Official Website for the latest tour dates and information.
January 18 2008 – Kinder, LA @ Coushatta Casino Resort
February 16 2008 – San Antonio TX @ AT&T Center
March 15 2008 – Sydney, Aus @ CMC Rocks the Snowys
March 19 2008 – Toowoomba, QLD, Australia @ Empire Theatre
March 20 2008 – Tweed Heads West, NSW, Australia @ Seagulls Club
Brad Paisley has released his latest single, “Letter To Me” off of his album ‘5th Gear’. It’s about what he would say to himself at age 17 if he could write a letter to himself today. The lyrics are full of advice and encouragement and I’m sure that the song will touch the heartstrings of many who can relate …
Brad Paisley has released his latest single, “Letter To Me” off of his album ‘5th Gear’. It’s about what he would say to himself at age 17 if he could write a letter to himself today. The lyrics are full of advice and encouragement and I’m sure that the song will touch the heartstrings of many who can relate.
For the filming of the video, Paisley invited his classmates from his 1991 graduating class at John Marshall High School to be involved. Over 140 classmates from his old school participated in the video, as well as one of his most supportive teacher’s, also the policeman who gave him his first ticket and current students from John Marshall.
I think the video concept is a great idea. It just confirms what I’ve been thinking all along – that not only is Brad Paisley a huge talent (keeping in mind his great guitar playing and cool Telecaster guitars), but he also seems like one of the nicest guys in country music today. Inviting old classmates to be in a video is quite the gesture – and I can’t think of many artists that would do something like this.
After watching his performance at the 41st Annual Country Music Awards (CMAs), my interest in Brad Paisley and his music has been reignited. It was good to watch him perform “Online”, also off of ‘5th Gear’, and after being nominated seven times, he finally took home the Best Male Vocalist Award at the CMAs. I found it surprising that he hadn’t won Best Male Vocalist before, but then again, there has been some stiff competition in the Country Male category over the years.
Two songs off of Brad’s latest album ‘5th Gear’ have hit #1 in the Country Music Singles Charts – “Ticks” (watch video), the first single, and “Online” (watch video). Now with third single, “Letter To Me”, it will be interesting to see if he can get another #1.
Country singer/songwriter Kellie Coffey has a new video out for her latest release “I Would Die For That”. The song is the first single off of Kellie Coffey’s new album ‘Walk On’, released on the Duet label.
“I Would Die For That” is a song about a woman who desperately wants a child, and is unable to conceive. The lyrics in what could be perceived as a somewhat controversial song, have pulled at the heart strings of many women who can relate to the woman’s story.
It’s amazing to read all of the discussions and comments that have been added under Kellie Coffey’s “I Would Die For That” YouTube video regarding the subjects of adoption, abortion and infertility. The song is clearly helping to bring people together who have experienced similar situations.
Kellie Coffey’s voice on “I Would Die For That” sounds incredible and the production on the song is superb. It reminds me of old school country but mixed with 21st century brilliance.
It makes sense that Kellie Coffey has opened up for George Strait on his 2004 tour and has shared the stage with country artists Keith Urban, Brooks & Dunn, Montgomery Gentry, Trace Adkins, Winona Judd, Martina McBride, Lone Star, Alan Jackson and more. Her talent shines, and she’ll be gaining a whole new fan base with the new single alone, and I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of the tracks off of her album, ‘Walk On’.
Watch Kellie Coffey – “I Would Die For That” video:
I love the way this album starts with “Momma Wish I’d Listened to You.” You know the singer is in trouble when he starts the proceedings locked up in a jail cell with black-eyed peas staring him in the face. So it goes when you don’t listen to what momma said.
Gene Butler sings some Concrete Country songs like the intro track then turns on that in your face country charm on “Cold, Cold, Cold Woman.” Music and songs like this are next-door neighbors to the blues, it is an undeniable fact that country is one of the many styles of music that developed a life all its own from the genre. I find myself grinning from ear to ear when I hear songs like that for some reason. I am always able to find the humor in an otherwise potentially painful situation. Guess it’s your own choice to look at the lighter side of life this way, I have a feeling the singer sure is.
Some fine musicians back Butler on every track on this album, besides his harmonica, guitar, and vocals, he gets some stellar support from some foot stompin’ fiddle players like Doug Atwell and Brantley Kearns. Billy Da Mota and Gurf Morlix (also plays the bass and provides vocals) adds some great guitar licks, and we cannot discount the importance of the pedal steel in a country song- Danny Dugmore provides that and does a fine job. Mike Bannister and Phil Mantano beat the skins to provide the bottom end for everyone and Amy Penny and Lucinda Williams (recognize that name?) add some vocal parts. I thought it was important to mention everyone that contributed to this effort and certainly, without all of their support, Butler would not have pulled this off in such a big way. I am not a big country fan but sometimes there is enough rock and a taste of the blues to bring out the latent cowboy in me.
01. Momma Wish I’d Listened to You (1:00)
02. Cold, Cold, Cold Woman (2:20)
03. Don’t Say Don’t (2:01)
04. In This Lonesome City (3:01)
05. Love’s the Real Thing (3:25)
06. This House That We Live In (4:23)
07. God’s Fallen Star (3:20)
08. You Go On Anyway (3:22)
09. Rip Cord (4:15)
10. Ride That Train (2:33)
Pretty Little Stranger was my introduction to Joan Osborne. I know her first album came out back in 1991 and I have missed a lot. Perhaps now with this stunning introduction I will see my way clear to seek out more of her music.
Grammy award winning producer Steve Buckingham (Dolly Parton) produced Pretty Little Stranger, with harmony support from Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, and Rodney Crowell. Osborne gives equal time to originals and covers with six of each. One thing I did not notice straight away was Joan’s similarity to Bonnie Raitt on some songs, which really is no revelation to people familiar with her as she has worked with Raitt before in the past. Bonnie is one of my favorites so for me this was a pleasant surprise upon first listen. Continue reading “Joan Osborne and Her New Album Pretty Little Stranger”
Lost Engines gives you a grand tour of the Additional Moog sound. This band sounds like many bands you have heard before yet they put their own particular twist on everything.
16 tracks is a lot of music to take in, but it’s all very enjoyable and that’s a good thing. I thought about the Velvet Underground more than once while I was listening to it. The band likes to call itself lo-fi alt country, in some cases I can agree with that, particularly on one of my favourite tunes, “Soul Star.” A lot of the time I heard some good basic rock-pop comparative to Big Star and the like, partly because vocalist James Williams reminded me of Alex Chilton. Continue reading “Additional Moog-Lost Engines”