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Gary Allan

Living Hard (MCA Nashville)

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Back in 2004, country singer-songwriter Allan's wife killed herself. A year later, he released Tough All Over, a painfully brutal record of his coming to terms with her death. Living Hard begins the healing process, but scars remain in songs like "Watching Airplanes," "We Touched the Sun," and "Yesterday's Rain" — all ostensibly about lost love. But the implications run much deeper. The natural ache in Allan's voice and Grand Canyon-size arrangements add to the gravitas. Still, it's not all about mending broken hearts and fractured lives. "She's So California" tells the story of a girl with earth-moving, fire-starting abilities, while the title tune pages through a booze-soaked tour diary. After all, a guy's gotta move on.

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