Imagine Chris Isaak gone country, with the twanging guitars and moody ambiance intact, and you get close to where Gary Allan's coming from on his third album, SMOKE RINGS IN THE DARK. That's not a criticism -- Allan's songs aren't by the usual Nashville tunesmiths, and his sound isn't the typical commercial mainstream; rather, he stakes out a turf that embraces hard country, with traces of contemporary country production flourishes cropping up here and there. Allan's subject matter is the man alone -- loving, losing, and persevering against the elements as he tries to make an honest stand. "Smoke Rings In the Dark" is an acutely well-observed account of a man going gently into that good night at the end of an ill-fated affair. "Don't Tell Mama" might be a broadside aimed at drunk drivers, but it's also a classic country song of whiskey, mama, and steel guitar. Kevin Welch's bittersweet recollection of doomed affair, "Cryin' For Nothin'," gets a steely edge thanks to the fire in Allan's expressive baritone. In a real acid test, Allan transforms Del Shannon's "Runaway" into a barn burner with a honky-tonk edge. Allan sounds a little bit like Tim McGraw, a little bit like Clint Black, and a whole lot like an artist who's in it for the long haul.
Performance CreditsGary Allan Primary Artist,Vocals
Steve Gibson Electric Guitar
Marilyn Martin Background Vocals
John Wesley Ryles Background Vocals
David Campbell Conductor
Chad Cromwell Drums
Dan Dugmore Acoustic Guitar,Pedal Steel Guitar
Randy Hardison Background Vocals
Steve Nathan Piano,Keyboards
Michael Rhodes Bass
Brent Rowan Electric Guitar
Hank Singer Fiddle
Lisa Silver Background Vocals
Harry Stinson Background Vocals
Bergen White Background Vocals
John Willis Acoustic Guitar
Curtis Young Background Vocals
Christy Cornelius Background Vocals
Lisa Cochran Background Vocals
Wynn Varble Background Vocals
Brice Long Background Vocals
Jake Kelly Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Technical CreditsTony Brown Producer
Robert Charles Engineer
Greg Droman Engineer
Nashville String Machine Contributor
Mark Wright Producer
Byron Hill Contributor
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
We were pleasantly surprised to find that we enjoy every single song on this c.d. How refreshing to not have to put up with songs just to hear the one you like.
This album was one of the best country albums made.
I think that this cd was one of the best I've heard in a long time.I'm not realy a big country music fan but there's just something about his music that I fell in love with.
'Smoke Rings in the Dark' was the first country song I ever truly liked. Gary Allan has grit to his voice, and sings with haunting pain. You really get the impression that he's feeling every lyric that comes out of his mouth. Really an awesome CD. He's edgy and a little dark, a wonderful combination.
After struggling to find his own identity on his first two albums, Gary Allan finally hits the jackpot on his third offering, ''Smoke Rings in the Dark''. Though he's still mainly a cover-singer, this release shows a mature intensity that is entirely Allan's own. From the gorgeous Chris Isaak influenced title track to the beautifully rendered ''Loving You Against My Will'', ''Dark'' promises to become a country classic- it is a genre triumph.
Every song on this CD is a heart-tugger. I enjoyed all the songs, Gary Allan is the most underrated country singer. His voice sends shivers up and down my spine. I never get tired of listeing him to sing. A must have CD for Gary Allan die-hard fans. Go and get his other previous CD's. You will not be disappointed.
I hadn't really paid attention to Gary's songs before hearing the singles from "Alright Guy", but when I was looking for that CD the store was sold out so I picked up "Smoke Rings in the Dark" and have absolutely fallen in love with the songs. I particularly like "Lovin' You Against My Will" and the title track, and "Sorry" and "Runaway" are so fun to sing to. Honestly, all the songs are just great.
This has to be the best CD I own. Every song is outstanding and Gary's voice is amazing.
Don't get all the references to Chris Isaak (Allan's voice is much grittier) but this is one awesome CD. There's not a bad song on it. One of the best country albums I've ever bought and probably will ever buy. Not just a couple of hits off the radio, ALL good songs. I regret not getting any more of Gary Allan's work, but maybe in the future