Gary Allan - Used Heart for Sale
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Used Heart for Sale (Decca, 1996)

Gary Allan

Reviewed by Don Yates

Traditionalism is back in style, and this Southern California honky-tonker is the latest new talent to turn heads at mainstream country radio with a sound firmly rooted in the music of another era. But like the best of '90's neo-traditionalists, Gary Allan isn't content to just evoke the past.

His debut begins with the catchy "Send Back My Heart," flavored with the same kind of retro-'50's cool that distinguishes many of the best songs by The Mavericks and George Ducas (who co-wrote the song). "Of All The Hearts" is a wistful retro ballad given an additional emotional edge by Allan's quavery twang (reminiscent of Mark Chesnutt). Allan also does well with a couple of older covers. His interpretation of the David Houston hit "Livin' In A House Full Of Love" conveys a wild giddiness missing from most of the mechanical-sounding uptempo novelty hits of today, and he delivers a rock-solid version of Faron Young's bar-room classic "Wine Me Up."

Other highlights include a confident cover of Jim Lauderdale's bluesy "Wake Up Screaming" and the charming title song (co-written by Allan).

Some other songs aren't as distinctive, and all could use more subtle drumming. But on the whole, Allan's debut succeeds in balancing the modern and the traditional.


CDs by Gary Allan

Set You Free, 2013 Get Off on the Pain, 2010 Living Hard, 2007 Greatest Hits, 2007 Tough All Over, 2005


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