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Gary Allan 'Living Hard' album review - highly recommended

Gary Allan - Living Hard

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)

Living Hard on

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By: Jenny May -

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  1. 2 Comment(s)

  2. By Yellow Rose on Jan 15, 2008 | Reply

    Glad you've finally "met" Gary Allan-he's one of my absolute favorite artists (that VOICE...WOW). I wish more people knew of him. In general, what I've found is that they know the songs, but not the name. (Ex. I asked my mom if she liked Gary Allan, & she asked "who's he?", yet knew every single one of his hit songs I played for her). He's one of those artists that you can listen to his albums or individual songs over & over (& over & over) again. [The ONLY exception is his last album "Tough All Over"-I find it VERY hard to listen to, not b/c the songs aren't good (quite the contrary, actually), but b/c of the events in his personal life that inspired that sad & painful album (I'm sure you've found out that his wife committed suicide in 2004 by shooting herself-while Allan was in the house, just down the hall). You can't help but be moved by the intensely personal songs.] I've listened to nothing but "Living Hard" since putting the cd in my truck.

    I'm a huge country fan, grew up on what is "Classic Country" (of the 80s), and current favorites-that I've been a fan of since their first albums-are, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, Shooter Jennings &, of course, Gary Allan. I introduced him to my fiance, who is a "classic rock" guy who loves rock artists from Pink Floyd to Rush, & he immediately asked me to burn him a couple of cds of my favorite Gary Allan songs (1 for the car, 1 for listening to in the O.R. while he's operating). I had only played him a couple of songs off the newest album when I got the same request as before-he knew he'd like the whole album.

    Wow-sorry 'bout the length of this "little comment", I intended it to be very short. Oops.

    Also apologize for the tangent that I'm about to go off on regarding another under-appreciated/recognized country artist. I don't know how much of a country fan you are, but an artist who should be a HUGE star, who you may like, is Katrina Elam. She had a hit a few years ago "No End In Sight" from her self-titled album, and a recent release "Love Is" was popular. But, apparently, she's had problems w/ her record label & isn't able to get the album out that she wants-& her fans have been anticipating-, so it looks like it's going to be an independent release-although several songs are leaking out, & they're fantastic. She's a very talented songwriter & has an absolutely incredible, strong voice-think Martina/LeAnn Rimes/Faith Hill w/ a little Sara Evans thrown in. She's infinitely more talented than Carrie Underwood, she even did a version of "Flat on the Floor", which is on Underwood's new album (FYI: Katrina's was recorded before Carrie's) In my opinion, Elam's version is better b/c it's more raw/authentic & not "over-produced"-if that makes sense. I was introduced to her when she opened for Keith Urban a while back-I went home & immediately bought the album from iTunes. This girl has paid her dues, is more talented than most of the top young artists (Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Taylor Swift) and deserves to be the huge success I believe she's destined to be.

    Off my soap-box & shutting up. Sorry for the tangent. Really just wanted to say I'm glad Gary Allan deservedly has another fan-now you've got an obligation to get the word out & introduce him to those who've never heard his stuff. ;) Congrats & glad you're now a Gary Allan fan!

  3. By bandweblogs on Jan 17, 2008 | Reply

    Yellow Rose, thanks for your comment! 'Living Hard' is a great CD, and hopefully more people will be turned on to it - and Gary Allan!

    I'll be sure to check out Katrina Elam.

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