staff picks
Set You Free

Dear Music Appreciators,

This is my first Gary Allan experience actually. First track, right away I thought "Steve Earle." That comparison faded over the course of the album, but the two singers do share some qualities. They both seem to have a certain rebellious/outsider quality and a certain kind of a gritty badassness that can be refreshing. Some Steve Earle fans might balk at the comparison but I believe the similarities are there.

One of my biggest obstacles to loving this album completely instead of just liking it a lot is the relative forgettableness (and corniness really) of the last four tracks compared to the first eight tracks. "Tough Goodbye" is sad and poignant, "Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)" is poetic and hopeful, "Bones" is memorably sassy (I love that it's multiple bones and not just one bone...um, that's what she said...), "It Ain't the Whiskey" is beautifully introspective, and, well, you get the picture - the first eight are great. The last four ain't. But it's still worth buying.

For music appreciators who have never heard of Gary Allan, this is a fine introduction (at least it was for me), enough to pique your interest to explore his catalog, and for Gary Allan fans I would think this would be a welcome addition to his discography. Eight out of twelve are really quality tunes. If this was baseball, a .750 batting average would make him the greatest hitter who ever lived. That's kind of funny when you think about it - is it harder to get a base hit than it is to write a great song?

Sincerely,

Constant Listener (aka Andrew Lee)

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