Gary Allan's latest release is called Living Hard. More than anything "Living Hard" is fueled by guitar. Make no mistake he's a country artist and this is a country record. It just so happens that the album also rocks fiercely. His voice is gritty, heartfelt, wonderfully unpolished and chock full of raw emotion. The lead single from the album is Watching Airplanes one of the mellower tracks on the album. My personal favorites are "She's So California" which puts me in a mind of Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" and "Wrecking Ball" which was co-written by one time Black Crowes guitarist Audley Freed.
"Living Hard" is the sort of country music that Merle Haggard might make in 2007 if he was a younger man. It has more in common with great Southern Rock than it does with much of the contemporary music out there labeled as country. Gary Allan's sound has no pop sheen on it.
The two words that kept ringing in my head listening to this album are honest & guitar. Honest because that's the word that best describes how the music sounds to me. And as good as the vocals and other music are on the album the guitar playing carries the day. While some of the riffs are pretty big and dirty sounding they are always tasteful and compatible with the songs. In that way they remind me a little bit of the guitar work that David Lindley did on Jackson Browne's early 70's stuff.
If you like real country music, southern rock or just good music without pretense Gary Allan's "Living Hard" is a release to seek out.