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Gary Allan

It Would Be You – 1998 (Decca)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Gary Allan

Gary Allan isn't selling anything on his soph effort but darn good, honky tonkers, mid-tempos and ballads. The guy has a dozen (including an ultra-dark hidden track) well- crafted and even better delivered songs.

The Californian's voice is front and center, a real throwback type of voice without sounding the least bit dated and great phrasing ("Red Lips Blue Eyes Little White Lies," "Don't Leave Her Lonely Too Long" and the title track).

Fortunately producers Mark Wright and Byron Hill don't interfere with the vocals or water down the honky tonk sound, something that you just don't hear much of in Nashville these days. And while Allan fought to include the hidden closer, the stark "No Judgment Day," about the murder of small town elderly shopowners, it is a keeper. With Allan accompanying himself only on acoustic guitar, he gets to the emotional core of the song. This is not your typical fare, and that's what so easily separates Allan from the pack.

His heart may be broken amidst these well-paced weepers, but this 12 pack sells itself.