Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Tough All Over
Genres: Country, Pop
Tough All Over, Allan's overwhelming sixth collection, on MCA Nashville, is true to all aspects of Allan's past work, beliefs, and successes. He remains a staunch believer in risk-taking tunes, evidenced here particularly... more »
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Tough All Over, Allan's overwhelming sixth collection, on MCA Nashville, is true to all aspects of Allan's past work, beliefs, and successes. He remains a staunch believer in risk-taking tunes, evidenced here particularly by the forceful "He Can't Quit Her," which sees love as addiction, and "Nickajack Cave (Johnny Cash's Redemption)," which portrays a dramatic turning point in the late country legend's life after drugs and alcohol had "him strung out on the ropes." But Tough All Over also moves on. Previous Allan albums presented his music as the play of a mainstream Nashville artist making his strong and sweet peace with California country traditions stretching from the rich balladry of Roy Orbison to the ornery truths of Haggard and Owens to the post-punk roots allegiances of the Blasters and X. That play is now gone. In its place is a fully integrated command of California and Nashville country that leaps out as Gary Allan music at its most immediate, satisfying, and mature. For Allan, Tough All Over has become his favorite record; he describes the final sessions now as "the most expensive therapy I've ever had." He worked, after all, with the same group of musicians -- among them keyboardist Steve Nathan, drummer Chad Cromwell, electric guitarist Brent Rowan, bass player Michael Rhodes, acoustic guitarists Jake Kelly and John Willis, percussionist Eric Darken, fiddle player Hank Singer and steel player Robby Turner -- that he had been friends with and recorded with since his very first studio album.
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A* | New York, N.Y. United States | 10/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gary Allan's latest has a backstory to it. The pain he grieves on this new set of songs is honest and heartbreaking to listen to. His voice has always had this sexy growl to it, but now it's weighted down with a sense of purpose and that makes this disc such a mood twisting gem.
The best cut off this disc is the "The Best I Ever Had." Alan didn't write it, but he lives in this song. He nails the delivery, tone and pathos of it. Also, "Just Got Back from Hell," is another display of his vocal ability.
I've always been a fan of his. In concert, there is still a clairty and comfort to his songs that makes the transition from disc to performance easy. He doesn't come across at any moment as if he doesn't have a great understanding of his craft, self, and what the audience wants.
I wish country radio would wake up and offer stronger support for a man who should be known on a bigger scale. If folks can clap and cheer on mass scales when Gretchen Wilson sings about "Skoal" why can't they appreciate an artist with heart."
I almost feel guilty for enjoying this album so much...
DanD | 10/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...I mean, the pain you hear in Allan's voice is genuine; the haunting lyrics were chosen (or written) to exemplify that inner turmoil. Allan and co-producer Mark Wright often contrast the soulful lyrics with pounding drums, sizzling guitars, and echoing vocals. It is an album that will either inspire you or depress you, depending on the mood you're in when you begin listening to it.
It would be a long-shot to say that this is Allan's best work; it would be hard to top his previous effort, SEE IF I CARE. Still, TOUGH ALL OVER is definitely the best album released so far this year, and probably the most daring; with such haunting tunes as "Best I've Ever Had," "He Can't Quit Her," and the eloquent "Promise Broken," Gary Allan establishes himself as a mainstream artist with an alternative mindset. His self-penned "Putting My Misery on Display" is an autobiographical glimpse at the way he copes with his pain during his shows; other tunes, such as "Ring," "No Damn Good," and the title track re-route his pain into love lost.
There is still hope, though, and that is what truly makes this album a musical gem. "I Just Got Back From Hell," though arguably one of the darkest songs you've ever heard, does have a glimpse of hope in it: "I just got back from Hell, and I'm standin' here alive/I know it's really hard to tell/Don't know how I survived." The piano ballad "Life Ain't Always Beautiful" (complete with a haunting harmonica) promises: "Life ain't always beautiful/But it's a beautiful ride." And "Nickajack Cave," one of the best tunes on here, is about how Johnny Cash found his spiritual redemption.
There you have it. TOUGH ALL OVER is one of the best albums released this year. As always, Gary Allan is a powerful, engaging performer (see him live, if you haven't yet). He takes musical risks, and yet knows exactly what his fans expect of him; without giving a hoot about what critics or radio has to say, he makes music his own way. This is one of the best albums you will ever purchase, I promise you. If it does not move you...well, in that case, you aren't human."
Allan's Best Album Ever and one of the best of the year
James E. Bagley | Sanatoga, PA USA | 11/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Recorded in the aftermath of his wife's suicide, Gary Allan's sixth cd Tough All Over is his cathartic response to this tragedy. While the subject matter is bleak, the raspy Allan skillfully keeps the proceedings from becoming a complete downer (the one exception: "He Can't Quit Her," a southern rock tale of addiction and murder).
Loss is the overwhelming theme of this cohesive album. Sarcasm and lively instrumentation greet the ex-lover who spurns him on the title track and the Kostas-penned gem "Ring." Meanwhile, the sparsely accompanied "Life Ain't Always Beautiful" and the Beatlesque "Best I Ever Had" look wistfully back on, then optimistically ahead after, a failed relationship. Recovery also plays a prominent role here, most notably on the stark "I Just Got Back From Hell" and the rockabilly "Nickajack Cave," the latter tune dealing with the redemption of Johnny Cash from drugs and alcohol.
Tough All Over concludes with three of Allan's compositions, including a six-minute power ballad "Putting My Misery On Display" that deftly chronicles the lonely life of a performer on the road. It's an appropriately intimate ending to the best, most personal album Allan has ever crafted. Along with Lee Ann Womack's More Where That Came From, it is one of the best albums of the year in any genre."