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Gary Allan - Tough All Over
By: Cheryl Harvey Hill, Sr. Staff Journalist

Today's country music may have more texture and angles than the simple "three chords and the truth" that gave birth to it but its basic DNA hasn't been altered. No matter what you are going through in your life, I can guarantee you that there is a country song that can accurately describe your feelings down to a T. Gary Allan's new album, Tough All Over, is an affirmation of this fact.

Allan has always had that coarse, cultured by trial and tribulation, depth to his voice that gives it a distinct edginess and enables him to deliver lyrics with an effortless sucker punch to the depth of your feelings but on Tough All Over he takes it to a new level; one that isn't easy to listen to at times because every syllable is conveyed with gut wrenching emotion and many of them, unashamedly, tinged with pain.

This is his first album since he lost his wife and, after much retrospection, he decided there was no point in trying to hide the hurt because he couldn't; instead, he confronted his grief, put it down on paper, set it to music and, as the final song on the album verifies, he put his "misery on display."

On his website it states: For Gary Allan, no real choice ever existed about the subject of the twelve songs on Tough All Over. "Not addressing what happened to my family would have been wrong," says Allan. "Itís a part of our lives and part of who I am. I absolutely had to work through what had happened, through music."

The popularity of reality shows on television is proof positive that we are a nation of voyeurs; we can't seem to turn away from the accident, no matter how horrific it might be. I think it took a great deal of personal courage for Allan to allow the world to view snapshots of a time in his life when he was/is clearly fragile and defenseless; he could have closed the door and drawn the blinds but he didn't. With this soul-bearing album, he answers all the exhaustive questions that have been asked, and some that no one had the audacity to ask. The result is a powerful, musical journey that, he now says, was a crucial step towards his own healing and I think this selfless act will be of comfort to others who have had the misfortune to walk that mile in his shoes. Just realizing you are not the only one to feel a certain way can be immensely consoling.

Despite the fact that much of the lyrics on this album are difficult to listen to, Allan's voice is compellingly mesmerizing and you can't seem to muster up the courage to turn off the CD player. It isn't that you are enjoying the heartache; quite the contrary, you are waiting, praying, hoping for the clouds to part and the sun to finally shine. For that reason, "Puttin' Memories Away" comes as a huge relief since it offers hope for a future that isn't permanently devastated by the events of the past. In this song you finally get a sense that Allan has regained some semblance of balance and the good memories have finally begun to outweigh the bad.

Allan co-wrote on three of the songs on this album but it is the dramatic final cut, "Putting My Misery on Display," which he wrote by himself, that was the most staggeringly gripping track for me. The song runs for over six minutes; Allan's earnest delivery of the heartbreaking lyrics is brilliantly complimented by four minutes of some of the most extraordinary and spellbinding guitar playing I've ever heard. The final song on the album begins as an emotional free fall but the dramatic instrumental ending allows you to, thankfully, land on your feet and I found it to be restorative after such an emotional journey. Ending with such intense musical drama, after such moving revelations, leaves you feeling exhilarated rather than exhausted.

Allan states that Tough All Over has become his favorite record; he now describes the final sessions as "the most expensive therapy I've ever had." I think his intimate disclosures and revelations will prove to be cathartic for a lot of folks and kudos to his fantastic group of musicians (keyboardist Steve Nathan, drummer Chad Cromwell, electric guitarist Brent Rowan, bass player Michael Rhodes, acoustic guitarists Jake Kelly and John Willis, percussionist Eric Darken, fiddle player Hank Singer and steel player Robby Turner). These are the same musicians that have been recording with him since his very first studio album and I'm certain that the fact that they have become personal friends over the years provided Allan with a recording environment that contributed immensely to the overall excellence of this project.  

Buy The CD Now!

Related Links:
www.garyallan.com: Official Site 
Gary Allan - "Tough Little Boys": Video Review 
Gary Allan - See If I Care: CD Review 

Gary Allan - Tough All Over song list:

1. Tough All Over 
2. Best I Ever Had 
3. I Just Got Back From Hell 
4. Ring 
5. Promise Broken 
6. Nickajack Cave (Johnny Cashís Redemption)
7. Life Ainít Always Beautiful 
8. He Canít Quit Her 
9. What Kind Of Fool 
10. Puttiní Memories Away 
11. No Damn Good 
12. Putting My Misery On Display

Did you like this album? did you hate it? Submit a "Real People Review"
RPR Rules

Real People Reviews

Yes, love the CD. Listen to it every day since I bought it. I can relate to most of the song so well. My fiancee was killed last year and "Life Ain't Always Beautiful" touched me very deeply. My first CD from Gary, one of many as I plan on purchasing the whole collection of Gary's music. Thank you so much. This CD is a huge comfort. I can relate. 
~ Leann


Love your newest CD, I have six of your CD's in my SUV, that's all it will hold. Are there anymore? My friend's and I will be at your next performance in Seattle, WA. We can't get enough of you Gary. God bless you, your fans
~ Dora, Vicki and Susan......See you in Nov.2006


This album has heart. Gary's voice can bring tears to your eyes knowing that he is singing with pain in his heart yet he doesn't hide from his feelings. When he is singing Life Ain't Always Beautiful I feel he is singing about my life. This is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard and Gary sings this song from his heart and soul.
~ Rebecca 


Just a quick reply on Gary's latest album. I think he captured his emotion really well and I would like to congratulate him for doing so.
~ Kylie


I loved this CD, it was great, even if it was due to the loss of his wife. I have been a fan for a long time, love his voice. Hope he keeps up making the great CD's like he has in the past. Great Job!!!!!
~ Carrie


This album has had an incredible affect on me. Last year in November the love of my life was killed in an extremely brutal tragic way. It is something I would never wish upon anyone to witness. When I heard "Best I Ever Had" I couldn't help but get upset. That song rings so true to my heart and how I feel. I can relate to how Gary Allen feels and what he is going through. Thank you Gary for this album. It has touched my heart. 
~ Tara


Can't stop listening to this one. But, I can't stop listening to all of Gary's CD's. I saw him in concert three times this past summer. When he sings you feel as if he is singing to you personally. I think this should get him a Grammy nomination! Hang in there Gary. There are a lot of us long-time fans out there who can't get enough.
~ Not Signed


Iíve been a Gary Allan fan since the release of his first album and have seen him in concert several times. Iíve always thought he was one of the best country singers who definitely was not getting his due where industry recognition was concerned. I felt that his music was great, but had always wanted to get to know him as a person better. This album definitely did that. Itís by far the best work heís ever done and I cannot stop listening to this album. It should be a downer with the subject matter, but you do walk away from the CD with a feeling of hope. I hope that Gary finally gets the career and recognition he deserves - Iím just sorry it took such a personal tragedy to invoke this album and its success.
~ Sherry - DSM, Iowa


Hi! I've just recently had the opportunity to see Gary live in concert in Mackay, Queensland, Australia. The tickets were a lovely birthday gift from my husband. The best present ever. We live 200km west of Mackay, but the trip in was worth it. Unfortunately the crowd was very reserved, I had a ball. His music is a reflection of who he is as a person. It is very rare to find that in an artist. Good on ya Gary. We love ya down under. Don't forget us, and come back real quick.
~ Kylie - Moranbah, Australia


Hi! I love Tough All Over. I found it to be very dark, but very true. It shows that Gary is not only a fantastic singer, but also a person, but with deep feelings. It was like his voice was heard deep down in my inner being. It was very moving. I loved it. He suffered a devastating loss and he's sharing it with us. It truly is hauntingly beautiful. It's dark, but very addicting. I've been a Gary Allan fan right from his start, this is by far the best I've heard. I want to hold him & comfort him, stroke his hair and let him know that God's with him. I'm looking forward to seeing him in December. Thanks again for an awesome CD (again!)
~ Denise - Bakersfield, CA 


This CD is the ultimate inside to Gary Allan for a fan. It is as real as it gets. True heartache and recovery all at
the same time. For Gary Allan fans it was a sigh of relief. For those Who really didn't know Garyís music, it was the one way ticket to a Gary Allan addiction. I have to say that knowing Gary had a hand in Writing some of the songs on this CD, showed the world that he is Entertainer of the year material.  
~ Yolanda - Clifton, Texas


I found the CD to be hauntingly beautiful. You feel his pain and his hurt and after hearing the twelve tracks you really want to reach out and give the man a big hug! I think the CD is beautifully produced keeping it about the man, the emotion and not over powering it with too much production. I popped it in my CD player last week and can't stop listening to it. In my opinion, it's definitely the album of the year in the country music genre. Well done, Gary and I hope you are feeling better. My heart goes out to you and your family. Thinks for sharing your heart! That's what makes a GREAT country artist and Gary Allan is all that and more. 
~ Carol E. - Duluth ,GA


Gary's new album is the GREATEST he made yet !!!!!!!! I PLAY IT ALL THE TIME !!!! And will not stop !!!!
One of his loving fans
~ Cathy with a C


I admit I had a taste of the new album when I got to see Gary perform at the end of August. The show was awesome, just back to back songs, and when he threw some new songs in I was amazed at how good they were. Then I got to hear the album in it's entirety on line. I sat still in my computer chair and listened to the whole album and was floored. The day the album was finally released I was right there first thing picking it up. Being a Gary Allan fan from his first album, thinking, this guy is better than Garth Brooks (remember who was king of country when that album came out!) and had been a fan ever since, and was pleasantly surprised how each album was better than the last, but this album is a rare gem that I know won't be leaving my CD player anytime soon. It's in my car, then I bring it inside, I listen to it as I make dinner, and again as I go to sleep I play it, and then when I leave my house in the morning it goes with me to the car. A good friend of mine just suffered a loss after being together 26 years. This album gave me some insight into what he was going through and helped me to be there for him in a way that I don't know that I could have if I hadn't been so into this album. It made me braver in the face of death, knowing that there will be sunny days again, even if the clouds won't seem to part anytime soon. Thank you Gary, keep it going bud!
~ Dana K.


I was one of many, who pre-ordered Gary Allan's "Tough All Over" CD. Listening to it, I hurt so bad, for that poor man. I cried from the beginning of the CD, to the end of it. The pain and hurt, in every word that was written, and the way Gary sang every song, with such feeling you could hear the tears in his voice. He held nothing back. I LOVE the CD! Gary said that making "Tough All Over" was good therapy and has helped in the healing process. I certainly hope so. He has had more hurt in his life than most of us will ever experience. He definitely deserves to be able to move on and find happiness again. Gary, we LOVE YOU and are praying for you.
Forever a Fan,
~ Carolyn


Of all his albums, "Tough All Over" is probably the most meaningful to me. Having gone through a pretty horrific divorce a few years back, his cut "Just Got Back from Hell" touched me like no other. "Putting Memories Away" also just nailed it. I am so thankful that country music has someone like Gary Allen in its midst. He just keeps getting better and better!!
~ Deborah G.


Hi...I just had to make a "review" On Gary Allan's..New album-TAO...I have it and I Feel & THINK this is the DEFINING ONE, for right now, ... I love it , honest, and open, . it's very clear to his pain.. .. He sings. "Best I've Ever Had", just perfect,.so perfect,,.but Gary is perfect in all his music.-His songs."cry"..with that voice IS ONE of a KIND, .I felt a air of mystery-enigma, to some songs on TAO. and Please Gary Write YOUR OWN Songs. he has a way with WORDS,and the enigma is..- Gary so much.....I HOPE Gary reads this....I went to my first concert Oct 5th-05 Nashville- City Hall...and all I can describe is WOW WOW!!.. (2days later, my daughter & I ran into Gary, & introduced ourselves , he had a calming effect on my daughter-Stephanie & I. because we were scared to meet Gary,& I don't know why,.Gary even gave Stephanie a HUG,) ..I BET everybody who listens to this TAO album will crave even more of Gary own songwriting-and I can't wait until the next Gary Allan-CD - , Gary has not YET touched to where you can REACH- is limitless,.. ..Thank you for my opportunity to do a review
~ Miss Willa (Willie)


Yes, I loved this album. I havenít stopped playing it. But I think itís a hopeful sounding album. Heís dealing. Garyís voice is a contradiction. Itís raspy, yet smooth. And it gives me chills, yet makes me HOT. But he could sing the phone book in a polka beat in D minor and Iíd still rush out and buy it! I am counting the days until I see him at The House of Blues in November in Cleveland! Heís the best singer in country music today by a long shot. 
~ Anna - Canton, Ohio


I listened to the album in my kitchen, as I was making dinner for my wife and kids. I found myself frozen and not able to continue. I couldn't wait for the next word to come over my CD player. Gary has been the only country artist doing anything for years. When other artist are boring us with country crap, Gary is the only one putting true emotion into the lyrics and music. I agree with most of his fans, we need to see Gary up on the stage when award time comes, and not the same, old snooze fest. Thanks Gary
~ Todd


I love Gary Allan's new album Tough All Over! I waited weeks for it to hit the stores. Then ran out and bought up two copies, one for my truck and the other for my home. There is not a moment that goes by that I am not listening to it. I am a fairly new Gary Allan fan. I had heard his music over the years but never perused who the artist was behind the
great tunes I was singing along with until "Best I Ever Had" hit the radio. Then my heart could not stop thinking about the man behind those words. I am a big Country music fan and mostly find myself being loyal to the artists that write there own songs. It just feels like the artist is singing the words to my heart.

I was even more touched by Gary Allan's music when I heard that this album was brought on by the lose of his wife. I have known people and even myself at times that have been to that spot in life where you don't want to go on and let thoughts wander through the mind. I was able to receive help in my time of need and I feel so bad that Angela was less fortunate. My heart goes out to Gary and his 6 children. I too was the mom of a blended family of 4 children for 11yrs. Bless his heart, we all love you Gary out here in Austin, TX. 
~ Evie


I loved the album. I think my favorite songs are "Best I Ever Had" & "Putting Memories Away". I hope it does really well for Gary. Have a great day!
~ Cheryl T.


The combination of sheer musical talent of the band and the raw sad emotion in Garyís voice makes you feel for him and his family. They have taken their musical and vocal abilities to the next level.  Gary is the best male country artist out there, it's a shame that it took this tragedy in Garyís (and his family's) life to finally get the recognition he deserves.  I fell in love with his music since his first record and I have bought every single one since then.  His Tough All Over CD, however, I have to say is the absolutely best one he has ever recorded and he will only get better from here.  My heart felt sympathy goes to Gary and his family.  It took a lot of guts to not run away and ignore the fact that tragedies happen and I am glad Gary did not ignore his tragedy.  Thank you Gary Allan for another genuine CD.  You are the greatest country singer in the business. 
~ Lisa


I seen Gary Allan at the Kentucky state fair and when he sang "Best I Ever Had" the words made me tear up, its a great song but when he sang "Puttin' Memories Away", I did cry. My heart went out to him even more, he has a voice that just puts u in a state that no one can do. This album is going to be a big hit and I just want to add one thing. Gary ur fans love u and wish u the best !!!!!!! 
~ Pam from Louisville, Kentucky.


I think this is not only the best album that Gary Allan has done so far, but it is one of the best I've ever heard. Every song was extraordinarily well done, from the lyrics to the music. Very emotional and I listen to it over and over. I am
an even bigger Gary Allan fan than before. He has a wonderful voice and I hope he keeps sharing it with us for many more albums. Thank-you, Gary Allan.
~ Lynn - Honeymoon Bay, B.C. Canada


While attending one of Gary's shows this past summer I remember him saying (paraphrasing here) that life can be bad but it's mostly good. When I heard him say that, I knew he'd be okay. Gary's version of "Life Ain't Always Beautiful" seems to convey that message also. All the music on Tough All Over seems to demonstrate Gary's feelings, or should I say he puts all of his feelings into Tough All Over; which is what makes it such an extraordinary album. Besides his wonderful voice, I think it's his best gift to music fans. I am listening to this perfect album a lot, and I'm sometimes smiling, sometimes crying and I'm always mesmerized by the beauty of it. It's simply the best album I've ever heard. Thanks, Gary Allan, you are the best! 
~ Linda - Hamilton, Ohio 


Thank you Gary for giving to your fans a very painful part of yourself and by doing so you have opened the hearts of those of us that have walked in your shoes. Death is so difficult and we each handle it in a different way, most of us just shut that door because the pain is just to much to bear. It took great courage to make such a wonderful CD and I know it will help start your healing process. The CD is your best ever, of course no one has a voice like yours. I am proud of you for being able to come so far in such a short time and know your future holds great things. You are an example to us all. Hurry and come to the Richmond, VA area. I send my best to you for the future. Stay well.
A fan,
~ Sherri K.


This CD was a fantastic compilation of songs, that really hits hard, they show his inner thoughts, and what he had/has to deal with, and shows that through songs, (country) life can be beautiful, while also being tough all over. 
I have every album Gary has made, and have seen him in concert numerous times in the last 5 years, and he just keeps getting better and better. Hopefully, now, with this album, (even though it was born out of tragedy) he will get his just deserves, as one of Country's best, and one of the elite singer/songwriters out there today.
Great C.D. from a great singer, and performer, his best yet
~ Tom - Los Angeles CA


Its a keeper. It helps me threw some tough times, but of course all his albums do. I don't think he could make a run of the mill CD. With Gary's voice and attitude towards his music he could take a bad song and make it one of the greats. 
Thanks Gary, 
~ Landon from Hoskins.

P.S. I've seen Gary in concert and his voice is exactly like on his CD. That's rare and kicks azz.


This CD is awesome. It is sad, powerful, eerie at times, emotional, sensitive, and more. I am so proud of him for making this cd for the world to relate to as much as we can and to know that he is going forward. I love it and will recommend it to many others. The message I got from this cd is that Gary has found God and once God enters your heart, there will be peace and harmony in life. Keep the faith. I have all of his cds and by far this is the most meaningful and shows what a talented artist he really is.
~ Lyn


We listened to the new CD of Gary Allan and we thought it was a very good CD.
~ Randy


I like his new CD you can tell it is from the heart. I hope he knows he is evey ones prayer. his music will get him through all this and it shows on his CD.
~ Catana


By far the best country album of the last 5 to 10 years. Raw emotion, super songwriting, with the perfect delivery from Gary Allan. I can't stop listening to it since the day I got it. I hope this album is remembered at awards time because Gary should get the recognition he deserves for this excellent performance.
~ Bob C.


I did like this album.
~ MeSpoiled


It's All Real... That's what I would describe Gary Allan's Tough All Over . He has been through hell and back but he made it. He is Tough all Over. This CD has words that will make a grown man cry, cringe, and be thankful they have someone to be the best they ever had. I have listened to Gary Allan since 1996 and this CD is his best work. I am glad he is writing again. I cant wait for what the future holds for Gary. Country Music better get ready for a ride. 
~ Shawna


Upon first listen of Tough All Over, I was disappointed at the omission of rollickers like "Drinkin' Dark Whiskey" and smile-crackers like "Alright Guy" and "What Would Willie Do". I quickly realized, however, that this record was therapy for Gary, and a necessary release for him emotionally. After several listens, I'm amazed at not only the quality of the project, but at Gary's ability to get it all down. The outtakes we will never hear from these sessions must be heartbreaking. 
As a Country Music fan, I look forward to Gary's next album being a little more what we're used to. But as a lover of finely crafted songs and emotional vocal delivery, Gary Allan may never top Tough All Over.
~ Kenny M. - Evansville, IN


I went out and purchased the CD the first day it went on sale and I have not stopped listening to it since. It is definitely Garyís best album to date.
~ Lynn Ė MI 


Tough All Over is incredible! You could hear the emotional heartbreak this man has experienced. I was mesmerized as I listened. This is a healing musical journey for anyone experiencing deep loss in his/her life.
~ Beth


I feel compelled to share that I really enjoy Gary's new album. I'll agree it takes a very strong person to be able to share his/her feelings in the way Gary has with this album. Gary has been my favorite artist for some time now and I'm glad he has been able to heal thru his music. Always, Gary has been able to make you feel the pain and anguish thru his music. I do enjoy the love songs and also understand why this album does not have one. Many different emotions have been conveyed thru Gary's music both Happy and Sad, love and love lost. This album I believe will be great therapy for a lot of people. I own all of Gary's CD's and he is the first artist I have been able to listen to thru out each and every album without skipping a tract!!! Tough All Over being no exception!
My thoughts and prayers go out to Gary and his family. Gary is awesome and I'm humbled by his exceptional talent!! 
~ Lady RoadStar


Gary's new album rocks! I cannot get over how mesmerizing, compelling, and touching the songs are and how his voice conveys such feeling and passion. Once again, Gary has proven to be the most inspiring and impressive country music superstar of them all.
~ Nicole K. - Moscow, Idaho


The Best Album I have Ever had the honor of listening to! Truly the most mesmerizing entertainer ever, so glad I found his music, it soothes you right down to your very soul. His heartache will break your heart and at the same time draw you deeper into the words and the songs. 
~ Shell


I am a long time fan of Gary's. I hope this album finally brings him the recognition he has deserved for years. Absolute perfection.
~ Kelly in Smyrna, Tennessee


I have all his albums and it is the best one by far. He is the best.
~ CC


I just picked up Gary's new album and I can't say enough about it. Tough All Over has touched me in a way that no other album, by Gary or anyone else, ever has. The raw emotion in his voice and songs is beyond words. I honestly don't know how Gary gets through most of those songs without breaking down, considering they reflect his own life for the past year. I hope this album finally gets Gary the recognition he deserves.
~ Kristy - Claysburg, PA


I expected that I would love this CD as I did all the previous recordings from Gary. And, I expected that it would be an emotional album with him working through the loss of his wife. I had read that he wrote some of the songs himself, so I expected it to be raw. But despite my expectations, nothing prepared me for what I was about to hear. 
When he sang "I just got back from hell" , I had to pull over to dry my eyes because I was crying so hard I couldn't see where I was driving. There is no faking it on this CD. It's all true, it's all real, raw emotion. Just thinking about it now, I have the chills.
I was happy to hear him sing in "Life ain't always beautiful" that: "...life ain't always beautiful, tears will fall sometimes...but it's a beautiful ride" 
Because even though some of the songs are real tearjerkers, there is a strong feeling of hope on this record as well.
I will say that I greatly miss the love songs as there is not one to be found on this record. But, as a devout fan, I understand why they are not there. That just shows how true Gary Allan is to his music. Love songs are big sellers, but if he isn't feeling it, he doesn't sing it, that is what makes him stand out in a crowd. My wish for him is that he find someone that inspires him to sing love songs again someday soon.
~ June D. - Hamburg, NJ


Gary is closer to the band he is always on the road with and sounds better with them. Only in Nashville...
~ Adrian


I read your article and honestly can't wait for the Tough All Over CD to be released on Tuesday, Oct. 11th. His fans have been counting down the days when this CD hits the shelves. I have been a Gary Fan since 2000, I have everyone of his CD's which they are all fantastic. I have no favorite because Gary's music is so true and the country that I love and his shows are awesome. His voice to the lyrics of any song is just beautiful. He makes you feel like you are right there, if he's not singing straight to you.
The loss of his wife had his fans worried about him, and we were hurting for him. We have waited patiently for Gary to heal, it's a slow process no matter how a loved one passes. So to Gary and the Honky Tonk Wranglers, congrats on the new release of your new CD, and hope to see you along the Highway somewhere.
~ A Highway Junkie - Clara -.Wyoming


This is the best thing I've ever heard !!!!!! You can tell in his voice, every word comes from his heart. What a strong person to be able to do this.
~ Arlene


Thanks so much for featuring Gary Allan and his new CD Tough All Over. it's an awesome disc.. and it's wonderful to see Gary getting some much deserved recognition.
~ JO M. - TX



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