Gary Allan

Living Hard – 2007 (MCA Nashville)

Reviewed by Jason MacNeil

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CDs by Gary Allan

Gary Allan's latest album shows the musician branching out slightly from his roots rock-meets-country feel of previous albums with the pretty, Americana-laced opener "Watching Airplanes" kicking things off. And while the song brings Tim McGraw to mind, Allan puts his own spin on it that comes complete with subtle strings. But the singer is intent on driving the same flavor home with the slow-building "We Touched The Sun" and later on with "Learning How To Bend" with mixed results.

With songwriters aplenty on the record, including Radney Foster and Jim Lauderdale among others, Allan shines on the toe-tapping "She's So California" that could be a cover of a Tom Petty nugget while "Like It's A Bad Thing" is a edgier, ragged and cocksure roots rock ditty. But things go off the rails when Allan pursues this format further with "Wrecking Ball" which is a rather prepackaged train wreck.

For the most part, Allan doesn't drop the ball often with another pleasing radio-friendly country-pop effort entitled "Trying To Matter" and the lighter, melodic "Half Of My Mistakes" which is far superior to a lot of the material presented. Overall it's a very good album with a few moments that leave you a bit flustered.