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Gary Allan’s New #1 Album (‘Set You Free’)

gary-allan_CDGary Allan – Set You Free
*** (out of 4 stars)
Label: MCA Nashville

Consistency counts when choosing whose new album to digitally download. Which is why Gary Allan’s new album, Set You Free, is his first No. 1 debut on the multi-genre Billboard 200.

But if there’s any adjective to describe Gary Allan, it’s perseverant. His dogged determinism has paid off. It may have taken nine studio albums, but Allan finally entered the chart at the top spot, while also entering at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart.

The album is the expected emotionally complex and honest listening experience that his fans have come to expect from the maverick. The songwriting is strong on every track, with a surprising amount of optimism mixed in with his familiar torment. The album covers more musical ground than some may be used to, however. It shifts between country rock, blues, jazz and even reggae.

Gary Allan knows how to write a song. He also knows how to choose one from another songwriter to sing that fits his unique qualities perfectly (he co-wrote five of the 12 tracks here). The song that fits his persona best is the soul-ripping “It Ain’t the Whiskey.” The track that is the most fun (to listen to and, no doubt, also to perform) is the playfully sensual “Drop.” Here’s hoping that it gets a shot at the singles charts eventually; country music could use this song as a reminder that sometimes country music can be sexy without being over-the-top in its obviousness. Gary Allan knows just how far to take it.

Essential Downloads: “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain),” “It Ain’t the Whiskey,” “Sand In My Soul,” “Drop.”

To preview or purchase this album on iTunes, click here.

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Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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