"She's been gone about three years/ it's been a long road and million tears/ I'm moving slow but I'm moving on/ the sweetest memories still remain." - No Regrets - Gary Allan-Jamie Hanna-Jon Randall.

It was a single gunshot wound that took the life of Gary Allan's third wife Angela just after midnight on October 25, 2004.

Texan born Angela pulled the fatal trigger but the ricochet still permeates morose songs by latter day Nashville widower Gary, now 42 and father of six children.

California raised singer-songwriter Allan exorcised grief in tunes about the aftermath of the tragedy on sixth album Tough All Over and seventh disc Living Hard.

Turning trauma into memorable songs from deep within the heart and psyche has long been a staple of the genre.

So on that level Allan, who has toured here four times since the nineties, is a genuine success.

The hard-edged country rocker and surfer wrote six biographical tunes here on his eighth album.

And almost six years on from his family tragedy, he reprises sorrow with his powerful album finale No Regrets - penned with Jaime Hanna and Jon Randall.

Jaime, occasional member of The Mavericks and son of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band co-founder and bassist Jeff, is a prolific writer.

He also cut a duo album as Hanna-McEuen with Jonathan McEuen - son of another Dirt Band co-founder John.

Equally prolific is Dallas born cop's son solo artist Randall - real name Jon Randall Stewart - ex-member of Emmylou Harris's Nash Ramblers and one of Lorrie Morgan's five former singing spouses.


"Wake up Monday morning, looking at another 50 hour week/ hit the ground, black coffee, running on two hours of sleep/ damned old truck won't start and I've got some place to be by eight/ you spin around in circles, cooking breakfast, running late too." - We Fly By Night - Gary Allan-Odie Blackmon-Jamie O'Hara.

Allan relied on Bill Luther, Brett James and Justin Weaver for the well-tailored title track entrée Get Off On The Pain.

Pat McLaughlin, Brice Long and Tommy Lee James collaborated on the ruptured romance requiems I Think I've Had Enough and the heat seeking single Today.

Allan ignites hedonistic That Ain't Gonna Fly with a candour repeated in his plea for a final fling with a deceitful, departed lover in Kiss Me When I'm Down.

Licentious licence you could say from this distance as Allan ends his disc with his eclectic originals.

There's more than a lick of lust when the male lead flees traffic jams for the carnal craving for his lover in the road song, We Fly By Night.

It segues into a dab of romantic release and surrender in When You Give Yourself Away.

Both were penned with long time collaborator, Odie Blackmon, with a little help from McLaughlin and Jamie O'Hara of O'Kanes fame.


"The life I chose, it's always been hard/ lots of tattoos and scars, and broken hearts/ and a woman's love ain't been hard for me to find/ but keeping one's tough when you're gone all the time." - She Gets Me - Gary Allan-Matt Warren-Kendall Marvel.

But it's a humble character that Allan portrays in the forgiveness seeking soul in another road song Along The Way - penned with Blackmon with a little help from Scooter Carusoe.

His character is full of praise and penitence for the long-suffering good woman who accepts the music gypsy and absentee lover in She Gets Me.

Allan is a turbo charged sonic survivor but here we're also exposed to his feminine side.

He proves exorcism in song is sweet solace for an artist whose longevity is enhanced by soulful delivery.

The singer is one of many international artists to first expose his music at revered but now long defunct Greville St, Prahran, venue ID'S that later morphed into the Continental Café.

Allan produced the disc with Mark Wright and guitarist Greg Droman and used many of the same session serfs from previous albums.

The names are familiar - guitarists Brent Rowan, John Willis, Kenny Greenberg and David Steele, bassist Michael Rhodes, drummer Steve Nathan, Chad Cromwell and Eric Darken on keyboards, pedal steel ace Dan Dugmore, fiddler Stuart Duncan and Russ Pahl on banjo and steel.

The Australian release has four bonus tracks - Long Summer Days and live versions of three big hits Right Where I Need To Be, Best I Ever Had and Watching Airplanes.

top / back to diary