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Gary Allan

Get Off on the Pain – 2010 (MCA)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Gary Allan

The title may not evoke pretty images, and Gary Allan makes it clear where he's coming from, starting with the title. This is not the feel-good, pop country infiltrating the country airwaves these days. Life and especially love ain't easy at all, and Allan makes damn sure you know that in case it wasn't absolutely, positively clear.

Allan's voice is killer, easily one of country's best, and he utilizes that to great effect here (as usual). There's a tremendous amount of timbre and feeling in Allan's vocals. And he digs real deep, particularly the closing No Regrets. Allan helped write the lyrically chilling, honest song (he wrote the final half of the 10 on the CD), dealing with the loss of a loved one, something unfortunately Allan knows all too well about it because his wife committed suicide.

Allan spits out and owns the lyrics whether he wrote them or not. His vocals exude the sadness and despair of losing an ex in marriage to someone else in the ballad Today. There is no feel good quality when Allan sings on his Along the WayAllan started off as a traditional country singer (remember the excellent "Used Heart For Sale," his 1996 debut?), and while he has the electric guitars going more than he used to, he also uses acoustic, banjo and pedal steel, even strings.

There is a no take prisoners approach to the music and vocals time and again, and only serves to make Gary Allan's latest a painful tour de force.