Over the course of a career no one has evolved musically and artistically as much as Gary Allan. From the traditional sound he showed on his debut album, Used Heart For Sale, to the new mainstream country-rock sound he’s shown on his previous two albums (2005’s Tough All Over and 2007’s Living Hard), Allan has evolved to an artist who is comfortable with his outlaw style of music. Does his new album, Get Off on the Pain, continue his evolution as an artist or does Allan stick with the formula he’s most comfortable with?
The album kicks off with the title song which is a country rocker that finds Allan singing about his outlaw style of living using lyrics about how he likes to hang out with the dark horses and how he rides the wrong road as fast as he can. The song lives up to his country rock reputation which suits his vocals perfectly. The album continues with “I Think I’ve Had Enough” which is a more mainstream rock song that could also be sung by a pop-rock group such as Daughtry. Allan sings about how he’s had enough of living alone and runs back to the woman he loves because his life is too rough without her. His vocals are packed with plenty of raw soul and suits the song and its production.
As usual, Allan proves he can not only sing the soaring rock songs, but also the tender ballads. The album’s lead single, “Today,” is a perfect example. The Brice Long and Tommy Lee James written song is about a man who realizes any chance he had with a woman disappears the day she gets married to someone else. Allan’s soulful tone turns into a more emotional one as he sings the heartbreaking ballad. He also shows off his tender side on the quiet “We Fly By Night” which talks about how he and his love interest may have stressful, hard days but once night falls, they find themselves making loving in a world that feels right. On this tune, Allan’s able to show off a bit of his bluesy side which mixes well with the steel guitar and drum melody.
The overall theme of this album is about love. The albums includes songs about losing love (“Today” and “Kiss Me When I’m Down) and songs about having love (“We Fly By Night” and “She Gets Me”). One of the most powerful songs about love is “When You Give Yourself Away” which talks about how you need to open your heart and allow yourself to open up to someone no matter how it’ll end. The song gives the message that in order to love you must give yourself away to someone else. The bluesy, soulful production brilliantly showcases his powerful vocal performance.
The most powerful song on the album is its closer, “No Regrets.” No doubt inspired by the loss of his wife in 2004, the song finds Allan singing about how he’s always loved her with no regrets. He says that even though their life together was short, he was still able to live so much…all of it with no regrets. The production on the song is filled with plenty of steel and acoustic guitar. Gary’s vocal performance is the best on the album by a long shot. This song proves that music, in any form, has the power to help heal any wound.
This is another solid album from Gary Allan that will no doubt bring him more success. The overall production sticks to his artistic stylings and his vocals are packed with his usual soul and incredibly range. Allan is one of country music’s finest veterans who will hopefully be able to continue to release great music for many more years to come.
(The Deluxe version of the album includes 4 bonus tracks: an all-new song and 3 live tracks)
Album Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars