Gary Allan is Nashvilleís best-kept secret. And maybe thatís because
this, Orange County,
California-born cowboy surfer who still makes his home in Huntington
Beach, finds his frequent
touring takes him far from Music Row.
The musical influences on See If I Care, his fifth album, also
travel a great distance, but remain
true to Garyís roots. Garyís love of country idols like Merle Haggard,
Waylon Jennings, George
Jones, Willie Nelson, Buck Owens and Lefty Frizzell are blended with an
appreciation for fellow
SoCal rockers like the Blasters, X and Janeís Addiction to create his own
The aching torch ballad "Tough Little Boys," could be Allanís biggest hit
yet. The single comes
on the heels of his recent #1 hit, "Man to Man," from 2001ís
Guy, which also had a #3 smash in "The One." He recently introduced
"Tough Little Boys" into
his live shows and was stunned by the instant response it evoked.
Itís a song that comes, like all of Allanís best work, straight from the
heart to his audience. "Kids
can bring you to your knees no matter how tough you are," says the
veteran singer. "I donít
really like sappy songs," "Unless theyíre done sincerely and honestly."
The new album, produced by Allan with longtime collaborator Mark Wright
(Lee Ann Womack
and Brooks and Dunn), features many of the same musicians heís played
including keyboardist Steve Nathan, drummer Chad Cromwell, electric
guitarists Brent Rowan
and Michael Rhodes, acoustic guitarist John Willis, with Dan Dugmore and
Robby Turner on
The production leaves in the rough edges, especially on the raucous
honky-tonk of guitarist Mike
Hendersonís rowdy "Drinkin?Dark Whiskey" and the south-of-the-border
strains of "Guys Like Me." Allan shows his gentler side on the plaintive,
Chris Isaak blues of the Jamie OíHara-penned "See If I Care," and on
Brice Long, Odie
Blackmon and Byron Hillís sensuous "Nothing On But the Radio," with its
sawing fiddle and
weeping steel guitar.
"I believe thatís going to be a make-out song," drawls Allan about the
latterís classic doubleentendre
title. "I can definitely hear that one on the radio."
Other standouts include Pat McLaughlinís "Songs About Rain," a name-check
of tunes like
"Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again" and "Rainy Night In Georgia"
that Allan sings in
what he calls his "best Tom Petty imitation." He co-wrote "You Donít Know
a Thing About Me"
with Jamie OíHara and Odie Blackmon, and itís as close as youíll get to a
from Allan. His moving, semi-autobiographical version of Jesse
Winchesterís "A Showmanís
Life" reminds you that this young veteran started performing in clubs
with his father and older
brother Greg when he was just 12, writing songs by the time he was 14 and
turning down record
contracts at 15.
"That song is so true," he admits. "Just seeing the underbelly of show
businessóthe other side of
the curtain, so to speak. It killed me when I first heard it."
From the very start of his career, being true to himself has brought
Allan to the brink of stardom.
His dad Harley "smoked, drank and played bars," introducing him to the
music of his icons. As
a youngster Allanís father took him to see artists like Merle Haggard,
Ernest Tubb, Willie
Nelson and Waylon Jennings. He also spent time branding cattle on the
family ranch in
Lancaster. This is no rhinestone cowboy, folks. Gary Allan is the real
After releasing a pair of albums on Decca (?6ís Used Heart for Sale
included the Top 10
country single, "Her Man" and ?8ís It Would Be You), he signed to
MCA Nashville for ?9ís
Smoke Rings In the Dark. The platinum album produced two hit singles
in the title track and
"Right Where I Need To Be," helping to establish Gary as a heartthrob
with the likes of People
and Country Weekly calling him "country musicís sexiest star."
Now, it appears the stars are finally aligned for Allan. "Iím proud of
this album," he says. "I
think we walk the line between commercial success and critical acclaim.
Itís made our career
start slower, but I think weíll be around a lot longer. I feel like, in
the past, with each record,
somethingís gone wrong. But with this album and the last one, itís the
first time I havenít felt
that. I think weíre going to get our best shot. Everything is coming
together for us."
See If I Care, reveals Gary Allan as a sturdy traditionalist whoís
not afraid to embrace the future,
a man who unabashedly mixes country with rock. A "Tough Little Boy" who
has grown into an