Tough All Over

( 6 )

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
Stand back, because on Tough All Over, Gary Allan sounds a wee bit ticked off, mostly over some unfortunate mishaps in love that have left him ready to settle scores. That much is evident from the first notes of the title track, which snarl (guitar), scream (fiddle), and wail (harmonica) as Allan bites off a sarcastic lyric aimed at an old lover trying to patch things up. Easing into a heart-tugging, lost-love ballad, "Best I Ever Had," his plaintive emoting starts at a croon and builds to an anguished cry, augmented by a plush, Beatles-like string quartet arrangement and backup vocals. As that song glides to a close, Allan barely takes a breath before crying out, "I ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
Stand back, because on Tough All Over, Gary Allan sounds a wee bit ticked off, mostly over some unfortunate mishaps in love that have left him ready to settle scores. That much is evident from the first notes of the title track, which snarl (guitar), scream (fiddle), and wail (harmonica) as Allan bites off a sarcastic lyric aimed at an old lover trying to patch things up. Easing into a heart-tugging, lost-love ballad, "Best I Ever Had," his plaintive emoting starts at a croon and builds to an anguished cry, augmented by a plush, Beatles-like string quartet arrangement and backup vocals. As that song glides to a close, Allan barely takes a breath before crying out, "I just got back from Hell" -- on a track of the same name -- spitting out a report from heartbreak's far shore, whence he's returning "mad at God and you," atop an eerie, echo-laden arrangement that sounds like Ennio Morricone gone Baroque. Kostas' bright, pop-tinged "Ring" is all twangy guitar, peppy pedal steel flights, and buoyant spirits, until Allan croons a clever lyric describing the utter meaninglessness of the gold band in his life now. "Promise Broken," "Puttin' Memories Away," "Putting My Misery on Display" -- these titles and the accompanying hard-edged music and sentiments indicate that surfer dude Allan is riding a pipeline of revenge and retribution, unmercifully torching feckless lovers and luxuriating in his survival instincts. The silver lining is the beautiful piano-fiddle showcase "Life Ain't Always Beautiful," in which he admits to believing good things will come to pass in time. We'll take him at his word.
All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Gary Allan has been all over the country map since he began recording in 1996. He's made slick Nash Vegas records, hard honky tonk records, and ballad records. With Tough All Over, he's made enough of a mark that he gets to release the album he's wanted to make all along. Evidence is in the title cut, which opens the set. Written by Odie Blackmon and Jim Lauderdale, it's a hard roots rocker in the vein of the Blasters' more adventurous moments, with edgy electric guitars, hard, clipped snare drums, a harmonica, and even a Hammond B-3. Yeah, there's a fiddle here, but it's hardly of consequence. This is rock & roll complete with shaking tambourines. "Just Got Back from Hell," driven simply by a National Steel before the guitars start to roar and the pedal steel and B-3 start to whine and whinny, is a gorgeous country song that keeps its focus on tradition while looking toward the future. The shape-shifting early-'60s rock at the heart of "Ring" written by Kostas wouldn't be out of place on an Everly Brothers or Del Shannon record had they used a pedal steel to carry the backdrop of the tune. The Fender Telecaster is trebly and raw and stands in sharp contrast to the slick on-the-spot vocals. But that's not to say that Allan has abandoned the ballads that have made his name; far from it. "Promises Broken," "Life Ain't Always Beautiful," and "What Kind of Fool," with its finger-plucked single banjo line, are tight, full of emotion and romantic pathos. But it's the rockers, which also include the 21st century rockabilly of "Nick Jack Caver" and the roiling, guitar-wailing, Southern rock-driven "He Can't Quit Her," that hold the most attention. The album's closer, "Putting My Misery on Display," begins simply as a ballad and becomes a rock power ballad. Whether the public will receive Allan's offering is another question, but musically and artistically, it's the most consistent -- yet slick -- record he's ever done.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/11/2005
  • Label: Mca Nashville
  • UPC: 602498645826
  • Catalog Number: 000371102
  • Sales rank: 72,204

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Gary Allan Primary Artist, Vocals
Eric Darken Percussion
John Wesley Ryles Background Vocals
Chad Cromwell Drums
Kenny Greenberg Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
The Nashville String Machine Strings
Steve Nathan Synthesizer, Piano, Hammond Organ, Hammond B3
Michael Rhodes Bass
Brent Rowan Electric Guitar
Hank Singer Fiddle
Robby Turner Pedal Steel Guitar
John Willis Acoustic Guitar
Reese Wynans Hammond Organ
Russell Terrell Background Vocals
Kirk "Jelly Roll" Johnson Harmonica
Wes Hightower Background Vocals
Perry Coleman Background Vocals
Jake Kelly Acoustic Guitar
Technical Credits
Jim Lauderdale Composer
Craig Allen Art Direction
Harley Allen Composer
Steve Beers Engineer
David Campbell String Arrangements
Greg Droman Engineer
Jamie O'Hara Composer
Mark Wright Producer, Audio Production
Tommy Lee James Composer
Gary Allan Composer, Producer, Audio Production
Matthew Scannell Composer
Matt Warren Composer
Cyndy Goodman Composer
Deric Ruttan Composer
Casey Beathard Composer
Odie Blackmon Composer
Todd Gunnerson Engineer
Ed Hill Composer
Margaret Findley Composer
Hank Williams Mastering
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    a tearjerker album from one of the best!

    I've kind of placed Gary Allan on a pedestal in the Country music genere, because I think his music is unique, in that I haven't heard any other quite like his. I don't actually have this album but I'd definitely get it if just for "Best I Ever Had" and "Life Ain't Always Beautiful". The former has a great guitar melody, and Gary's gravely voice really shines, to bring out the overall message of the song. As for "Life Ain't..." I can't think of any other song that has touched me as much as this one has. Not only is it just beautiful, but the message, and Gary's ability to be able to say what this song says, goes to show that even when everything is taken away from you, it's possible to see life for what it really is: "..a beautiful ride." Gary Allan definitely has exceptional strength to be able to deal with the terrible way his wife died, coming out with such a wonderful album only 1 year after the tragedy happened. If you're looking for an album that comes from the heart, look no further, it has arrived!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Best bitter-sweet lyrics since Dwight Yoakam

    The gritty words in many of these songs are a perfect match with his edgy, raw singing style. All in all it makes for a fun ride. Just the right about of anger and pain in his voice for the rocker songs, Nicka Jack Cave, He can't quit her and Just got back from hell. Reminds me of Dwight Yoakam's classic breakup line, "Thank you for Teaching me brand new ways to be cruel."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Very good album from Gary

    Some very good songs from Gary Allan, I was wondering how the untimely death of his wife would affect the songs he would record for the album. Lots of pain came out in his voice, and there is some interesting sound effects in a few of the songs. All in all, get the album if you are a Gary Allan fan...keep up the good work! Mike G.

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    Posted January 25, 2009

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    Posted March 16, 2009

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    Posted January 10, 2009

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews