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Gary Allan, ‘It Ain’t the Whiskey’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

It Ain't the Whiskey
MCA Nashville

After two uplifting singles, Gary Allan has become the dark, heartbroken and wretched singer his fans have loved for over a decade. ‘It Ain’t the Whiskey’ is his bread and butter, and the singer sounds better than ever on this highlight from the ‘Set You Free’ album.

His convincing vocal performance is pinned down by a unique, but not distracting, arrangement and a story told from an atypical point of view. Some may be turned off by this stunning rebuke to substance abuse support groups. After painting a vivid picture of the wounded congregation, Allan explains why he’s truly suffering:

It ain’t the whiskey / It ain’t the cigarettes / It ain’t the stuff I smoke / It’s all these things I can’t forget / And it ain’t the hard times / It ain’t the all nights / No it ain’t that easy / Cause’ it ain’t the whiskey that’s killin’ me.”

There isn’t an artist whose tears and blood are more satisfying than Allan’s. When he hurts, country music is better for it. The reprieve from his agony allows this track to be even more effective. Jay Joyce was the perfect producer to add drama without stealing sincerity here.

The mix of organ and almost broken down acoustic guitar introduces the mood of this song before Allan even begins to tell his story. Every element works together to create a true piece of art, not just a vocal performance set to music. Few artists understand the difference quite like Gary Allan does.

Key Lyrics: “Y’all sit in this room and you talk like ya’ got some kind of remedy / Well I hear what your telling me, but I got all the proof I need.

Did You Know?: One of the songwriters is Cole Degges, who charted two minor hits with Cole Deggs and the Lonesome in 2007 (‘I Got More’) and 2008 (‘Girl Next Door’) before being dropped by Columbia Nashville.

Listen to Gary Allan, ‘It Ain’t the Whiskey’

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