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Gary Allan

See If I Care – 2003 (MCA Nashville)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Gary Allan

With the song "Guys Like Me," a pivotal track from Gary Allan's new album, the singer worries aloud about how today's country music scene is seemingly trying to marginalize hardcore troubadours like himself. But since Allan's latest release overflows with enthusiastic staying power, it strongly suggests that he'd never go down without a fight.

"See If I Care" is pretty gutsy; at least for a mainstream release. Although a few of ballads - like the hit single "Tough Little Boys" - find him sounding a little on the sluggish side, whenever he gets a chance to put that snarl into his voice, as happens with the rollicking "Drinkin' Dark Whiskey," his music burns like a straight shot of the hard stuff. Also, the moments he's blessed by just plain wonderful songs, like "Songs About Rain," he's simply unbeatable.

Similarly, the melancholy "The Showman's Life" allows him to wallow in the sadder side of fame, accompanied by a lonesome fiddle. In "Guys Like Me," Allan sings, "I keep on living every song I'm singing," which puts him in a pretty exclusive club these days. Allan may have grown up in the Southern California suburb of La Mirada, but when it comes to authentic country singers, you just gotta take 'em where you can get 'em. And besides, we really need guys like him.