Dictionary.com defines freedom as “the power to determine action without restraint.” Thus, Gary Allan’s Set You Free is a perfectly named, well-conceived album that embodies his own evolution toward personal, creative freedom. The album, sequenced with a storyline in which a man breaks the restraints of a failed relationship and conquers the loneliness of its aftermath, is the result of Allan’s own journey as a man and as an artist.
He took a number of new steps during the recording process – by mixing up the production team, playing lead guitar on a number of tracks, writing more of his own material and using a handful of new co-writers. As a result, he came up with the most optimistic album of his career, one that acknowledges the hurdles of the past and the ways in which they’ve helped to shape his current sense of renewal.“It’s all about healing,” Allan says. “It’s all about the evolution of getting better. He has, to be sure, drawn heavily from that viewpoint, mixing honky-tonk bravado and grainy isolation across eight previous studio albums, all the while mining the emotional turf that fuels a life well-lived: the joys of parenting, the heartache of personal loss, the testosterone of disagreement and the unpredictability of love. He registered five #1 singles – “Man To Man,” “Tough Little Boys,” “Nothing On But The Radio,” “Watching Airplanes” and “Every Storm Runs Out of Rain” – in addition to such trademark hits such as the lonely “Best I Ever Had” and the swaggering “Right Where I Need To Be.” Allan’s amassed seven gold albums in the process – three of them certified platinum, as well – and maintained the admiration of critics for his unwavering uniqueness.
Set You Free is at once familiar and enlightening. Fans who have followed Allan throughout his 17-year recording career will recognize the dark crevasses in the project – the gnarled anger of “Bones,” the honest self-examination of “It Ain’t The Whiskey,” the sinister self-abuse of “Sand In My Soul.” But as the album’s cinematic plot unfolds, it opens into a refreshing glimpse of self-acceptance. Allan falls into a carefree, quasi-reggae groove on the upbeat “No Worries.” He couches past suffering as a tool for a promising future in the driving, penultimate “Pieces.” And he closes the album with a dramatic, lush proclamation, “Good As New.” That latter title sums up the emotional place in which Allan finds himself, and he attributes much of it to music. “There’s no better thing than to have all your best friends come over and to talk about the emotions that you’re having,” Allan says. “Songwriting is the best therapy in the world.” Allan is also good as new in a literal, physical way. Set You Free is the first album he recorded since the removal of a polyp on his vocal cords that had doggedly restricted his range, his strength and his expression. The issue was discovered almost by accident during a routine checkup with a Nashville voice doctor. But it explained why his concerts had ever so gradually become a test of his endurance.
“Every time I would go out before the surgery, I would only last full force for about three songs,” he says. “I could feel the fatigue, and I could feel my cords swell up, and I had other people hitting notes for me. They removed the polyp, and it was like I was 18 again. It was amazing how well it worked.”
The difference is noticeable. There’s always been a gritty, gravelly edge to his performances, but confident that his voice will respond, Allan pushes himself on Set You Free, singing with more command, authority and pliability than he has in years.
Able to challenge himself vocally, he found other ways to draw from his creative muse. He devoted more time to writing songs and explored a new avenue by co-writing for the first time with a series of women. Of the five songs he penned, four are co-written with three different women – Sarah Buxton, Hillary Lindsey and Rachel Proctor – a step that unlocked an undefinable energy. He particularly enjoyed many of the songs he wrote with Lindsey, who’s written a bevy of successful country titles in the last decade, including Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus, Take The Wheel,” and Lady Antebellum’s “American Honey.” “Every time I’ve written with her and my buddy Matt Warren, we end up with like nine starts of a song, because it seemed like we were always branching off into some other subject,” Allan notes. “Then we’d come back and we’d write one or two of those and have four or five more ideas. Eventually, we would come back and finish writing one or two more of those. It’s an amazing thing that we have. We’ve written nine or ten songs, but we’ve only been written together three times. It’s quality. Once you get those kind of rhythm going, you try to ride it out the best you can.”
Their efforts included “Every Storm (Runs Out Of Rain),” the first single from the album – which features Lindsey as the harmony vocalist. It marks the first time a woman has provided the backing vocals on one of Allan’s singles, providing a softer contrast to his roughed-edged, ultra-masculine tone.
“Every Storm,” in fact, is a distillation of the entire album, as well as the renewal that accompanied it. The singer bravely faces all of his demons – “Don’t be afraid of the thorns / ‘Cause we all have thorns” – as he moves forward, ending the chorus by hitting an extended high note on a line that just happens to be the album’s title, “Set you free.”
“That line,” Allan muses, “says so much.”
The Southern California-born Allan has been exploring the thorns since the beginning of his musical life, when he played the clubs during his high school years. After graduation, he developed a following in the area, regularly attracting an audience that featured a rare mix of rednecks in western boots and neo-Goths with piercings and spiked hair. Allan was particularly inspired in a concert by the Highwaymen – Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson – to pursue music that mined the dangerous side of life. “They were so powerful,” Allan reflects. “It was like punk rock to me. It was so hardcore. I really, really wanted to be a part of that lifestyle.”In Set You Free, Allan found even greater artistic clarity, building a cohesive narrative from a collection of songs directed by three different producers. Longtime friend Mark Wright (Gretchen Wilson, Lee Ann Womack) tracked three songs, while the versatile and mysterious Jay Joyce (Eric Church, Cage The Elephant, The Wallflowers) turned in five and Allan co-produced the final four with engineer Greg Droman (Brooks & Dunn, True Blood theme).
“Getting in and doing it myself with some of my band guys was a big deal,” Allan observes. “It was a big breath of fresh air.” Which is what Set You Free represents. The album’s lyrical journey from darkness to light reflects much of what went on behind it – the progression of Allan’s own life as an adult, the restoration of his voice, the renewed energy from working with new songwriting partners and the challenge of producing his own tracks and playing his own lead guitar. All of those changes have given him a new sense of freedom. “I seem to gravitate musically toward wherever I’m at in my life at that time,” Allan says. “And I’m in a real good place.”
“Hey I’m Adam Hambrick, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hi! This is Alan Jackson. I hope y’all have a very happy Thanksgiving out there.”
“Hey Guys, I’m Billy Currington. Have a great Thanksgiving.”
“Hey y’all! This is Brandon Lay. Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hey! This is TJ, and this is John, and we’re wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving!”
“Hi! I’m Carrie Underwood, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.”
Hey y’all This is Caylee Hammack, wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hey–this is Chrissy Metz, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hey y’all! What’s up? This is Darius Rucker, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!”
“Hey! It’s Dierks Bentley! Happy Thanksgiving!”
“Hey folks! It’s Eric Church, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hey guys! Gary Allan here. I just want to wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving, and have a Happy Holidays and make sure you’re safe out there. Drive safe. Party your butts off, but do it safe.”
“Hi! This is George Strait, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hey everybody, what’s up? We’re Hootie & the Blowfish, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.”
Hey y’all, I’m Jon Langston, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.
“Hey! It’s Jon Pardi, wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hey I’m Jordan Davis. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.”
“Hey y’all I’m Josh Turner, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Happy Thanksgiving everybody. It’s Keith Urban here. I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all of you listening for your incredible love and support that I’ve received over the last year, and to wish you and all of your family all the very best for this holiday.”
“Hey what’s up guys, this is Kip Moore wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hey y’all, this is Kylie Morgan, wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hey! This is Lauren Alaina, wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving!”
“Hey, we’re Little Big Town. Happy Thanksgiving!”
“Hey! It’s Luke Bryan, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!”
“Hey everybody! I’m Maddie, and I’m Tae, and we’re Maddie & Tae, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hey! It’s Mickey Guyton here, and I want to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hey everybody. I’m Parker McCollum, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hi! This is Priscilla Block, wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hey everybody! This is Sam Hunt, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hey y’all! It’s Travis Denning, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.”
Gary Allan makes his return with a long-awaited new single “Waste of a Whiskey Drink” available today. The catchy and upbeat tune showcases Allan’s signature raspy and soulful vocals with a classic 90’s sound that his fans have craved. Written by Josh Kear, Michael Hardy, and Mark Holman, the song sounds as a warning signal to a fellow bargoer to not waste a drink on a girl that is nothing but trouble.
“It’s about a girl that you just don’t want any of your friends to get tangled up with. You’ve been there. And you’re telling him as he’s looking at her and thinking she’s cute… and you’re saying, ‘Man, just do something else because she’s a waste of a whiskey drink. Don’t do it,” says Allan. The song was produced by Mark Wright and Tony Brown, who also produced his 1999 Platinum album Smoke Rings in the Dark which housed three of his Top 40 Country Hits. You can hear the new single “Waste of a Whiskey Drink” HERE.
With the allure of a modern-day outlaw, Gary Allan has won over fans, peers and critics with his signature blend of smoldering vocals, rebellious lyrics and raucous live performances. While becoming a force on the country music scene, Allan has remained true to his artistic voice each step of the way. In 2016 Allan re-signed with Universal Music Group Nashville, the label home for the entirety of his twenty-four year career. His last album, Set You Free, topped the all-genre Billboard 200, a career first for Allan. The album also made its debut at the top of the Billboard Country Album chart (for the fourth time in a row) and produced his fifth #1 country radio chart topper with “Every Storm (Runs Out Of Rain).” The California native released his first album, Used Heart for Sale, in 1996 and since then has released eight additional studio albums selling over 8 million albums, been certified platinum on three back-to-back albums, and been certified gold five times. Allan has five #1 hits at country radio, fourteen Top 10 hits to his credit and amassed over 1.5 billion total streams. His album Smoke Rings in the Dark recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with the release of his first ever vinyl appearance. He’s described as “dark and dreamy” in Entertainment Weekly, “soulful and rough around the edges” in Playboy and deemed a “maverick” by Rolling Stone. He has sold out venues as a headliner from NY to LA, appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Live with Kelly and Michael and Jimmy Kimmel Live. He has also landed on the covers of Country Weekly, Pollstar and People magazine.
Gary Allan (Waste of a Whiskey Drink-short version) OC: … love it.” :14
It’s about a girl that you just don’t want any of your friends to get tangled up with. She’s an awful person. You’ve been there, and you’re telling him as he’s looking at her and thinking she’s cute, you’re saying, ‘Man, do something else ’causes she’s a waste of a whiskey drink. Don’t do it.’ I hope you love it.”
“Hey! This is Adam Hambrick, wishing you a safe and Happy Fourth of July.”
“Hey! This is Alan Jackson, wishing you a happy and safe Fourth of July.”
“Hey guys! I’m Billy Currington, wishing you a Happy Fourth of July.”
“What’s up, everybody? This is Brandon Lay, wishing you a Happy Fourth of July.”
“Hey y’all! I’m John, and I’m TJ, and we are Brothers Osborne, wish you a very Happy Fourth of July.”
“Hi! This is Carrie Underwood wishing you a Happy Fourth of July.”
“Hey y’all! This is Caylee Hammack wishing you a safe and Happy Fourth of July.”
“Hey y’all! This is Caylee Hammack. Happy Independence Day, everybody!”
“Hey! This is Chrissy Metz, wishing you a safe and Happy Fourth of July.”
“Hey y’all, what’s up? This is Darius Rucker, wishing you a very, very happy Fourth of July!”
“Hey y’all, what’s up? This is Darius Rucker. Happy Birthday, America!”
“Hey everybody! This is Dierks Bentley, wishing you a Happy and safe Fourth of July.
“Hey this is Eric Church, wishing you a very happy Fourth of July.”
“Hey! This is Gary Allan. Happy Fourth of July.”
“Hey y’all, this is Jon Langston wishing you a safe and Happy Fourth of July.”
“Hi, it’s Jon Pardi, wishing you a happy Fourth of July.”
“Hey! I’m Jordan Davis, wishing you a Happy Fourth of July.”
“Hey y’all. This is Kylie Morgan, wishing you a safe and Happy Fourth of July.”
“Hey! It’s Lauren Alaina. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July.”
“Hey! We’re Little Big Town. Happy Fourth of July!”
“Hey! This is Luke Bryan, wishing you a very happy Fourth of July.”
“Hey everybody! I’m Maddie, and I’m Tae and we’re Maddie & Tae, wishing you a safe and happy Fourth of July.”
“Hey! This is Mickey Guyton, wishing you a Happy Fourth of July.”
“Hey everybody. I’m Parker McCollum, wishing you a Happy and safe Fourth of July.”
“Hey everybody! This is Sam Hunt, wishing you a safe and happy Fourth of July.”
“Hey y’all! It’s Travis Denning, wishing you a safe and Happy Fourth of July.”