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Album review: Gary Allan, "Get Off on the Pain"

By Bill Friskics-Warren

Gary Allan's music might be steeped in the West Coast honky-tonk of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, but his brooding persona owes as much to rock-and-roll, an affinity that's apparent throughout the 10 tracks on his terrific new album.

(Plenty of rock but undeniably country, after the jump.)

In one lovelorn song, as his ex retrieves her things from his apartment, the item that gives him pause is "the empty 'Zeppelin III' CD case" he spies in one of the boxes she carries out to her car. In the fiddle-sweetened "She Gets Me" he gives thanks for finding someone who loves him in spite of his shortcomings, not the least of which being the "crazy rock-and-roll life" to which he's addicted.

The surging guitars and rhythms on "That Ain't Gonna Fly," meanwhile, are closer to "Born to Run," or even '90s alt-country, than anything you might hear on Alan Jackson's latest CD. Even "We Fly by Night," yet another of the smoky, atmospheric ballads Allan began honing over a decade ago, is more Roy Orbison than George Jones.

Allan's by turns gruff and tender vocals nevertheless are undeniably country, as is the stolid resilience with which he confronts heartache. "No Regrets" finds him looking back on his time with his late wife Angela, who committed suicide - after suffering from prolonged depression - in 2004. "I'm moving slow but I'm moving on," he tells himself, and the mix of sadness and anticipation in his voice is that of someone who's lived through an agonizing experience, emerging battered but intact.

Recommended tracks: "Get Off on the Pain," "That Ain't Gonna Fly," "No Regrets"

By David Malitz  |  March 9, 2010; 7:30 AM ET
Categories:  Quick spins  | Tags: Gary Allan  
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