It is always refreshing to hear an artist sing real songs with real emotion. Enter Gary Allan with his 9th studio album "Set You Free." It's a perfect title as he roams freely from one musical genre to the next - a little blues, a little jazz, and even a little reggae.
His heart-wrenching honesty comes out in track one and continues to the end. "Tough Good-bye" is a song of almost getting too close and letting her go. He knows heartbreak all too well. He hates to see her cry, but he's leaving anyway. He's not done being free.
One of my favorites is the bluesy "Hungover Heart." It's a cautionary tale of getting too high or addicted to love. He sings with bitter wisdom "Don't get too high on love or addicted to her touch / Don't get hung up on forever 'cause there ain't no such / Don't get strung out on a woman 'cause comin' down is the hardest part / When she walks away and leaves you with a hungover heart."
The addiction theme continues with "It Ain't The Whiskey" and is quite possibly my favorite song on the album. He's falling apart piece by piece; not from the whiskey or the smoking but from the pain he can't forget. "I done all I could to drown this hurt inside, but I can't wash you off of my mind / It ain't the whiskey. It ain't the cigarettes / It ain't the stuff I smoke. It's all these things I can't forget / and it ain't the hard times. It ain't the all nights / It ain't that easy, cause' it ain't the whiskey that's killin' me.
His amazing single "Every Storm (Runs Out Of Rain)" is pretty self-explanatory. It's a song of pushing through, hanging on, and staying strong. And this is where the album gets its title. It's gonna set you free.
A great song about reflection is "One More Time." He wonders what he might think of his life as he's standing at the pearly gates. He knows he's lived like hell and done it well (he's got the scars to prove). He fears he hasn't loved enough, cared enough, or given it all he's got. He's grateful for one more time to get it right.
By the end of the album, he's pulled himself together and is as "Good As New." His broken heart has mended since he's met the new love of his life. Your heart can't help but swell through the crescendo. It's a solid and powerful album closer.
Overall, it's a great country album that you'll want to play over and over. It has a good mix of old and new country with hope and optimism blended throughout.