Gary Allan Is Drawn to Country Music’s Darker Side

"It Ain't the Whiskey" Keeps Him in the Shadows of Love and Heartbreak

If you prefer your country music filled with rainbows and sunshine, Gary Allan may not be what you’re looking for. And he’s OK with that.

That’s not to say he hasn’t provided songs of hope, like “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)” or groove-filled tunes like “Nothing on but the Radio,” but let’s be honest. When I think of Gary Allan, I think of mysterious, brooding love songs and songs about pain and life’s often less-than-glamorous moments. He does, too, apparently.

“I like the dark songs,” Allan admits. “To me, I always feel like no one cares if I’m happy. Why would you want to write about that? I never want to hear it if you’re happy. … I don’t want to hear a song about how sunshiney things are. I like the songs that are, like, cutting and the real heart-wrenchers.”

And, boy, has he had them, including “Songs About Rain” and “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful.” And could you imagine country radio without “Smoke Rings in the Dark” ?

“It Ain’t the Whiskey,” the latest single from his hit Set You Free album follows suit. It’s another quintessential, soon-to-be Allan classic — a song about loneliness, a heart and head spiraling out of control after love goes wrong and the obvious vices we use to cover it all up.

Not to suggest Allan is an unhappy man. He just likes to keep it real. Life is messy, and Allan is authentic. He’s always been about honesty in his work, and that’s what endears him to his fans and the country audience most.

And as long as he’s pouring a hefty shot of the truth, I’m more than down for another round.

He’ll be performing the song Wednesday (Nov. 13) on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.

Samantha is a country radio insider with a deep love for the music and its stars. She can often be found on a red carpet or at a late-night guitar pull.