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Gary Allan Interview: Singer Says Optimism on New Album Reflects His Personal Life

Gary Allan
Beth Gwinn, Getty Images

Gary Allan‘s new single ‘Every Storm (Runs Out of the Rain)’ is one of the more inspiring songs of 2012, and the singer says there’s more like it on his ‘Set You Free’ album, expected in stores in early 2013. Over the last 15 years, few have done dark and moody quite like the ‘Watching Airplanes’ singer. Songs inspired by tragedy in his personal life have left the most indelible mark on fans, and as it turns out, that is still the case.

But the dark veil of tragedy has lifted to let Allan bask in the glow of a new spring. During a phone call with Taste of Country, the singer spoke with excitement about the 12 songs on ‘Set You Free.’

“I’m always half full,” he said when asked if he’s a natural optimist. “People make fun of me for that.”

Four different producers split the project, creating a pseudo-competition┬áto record something worthy of being a single. Allan wrote five of the cuts himself, and made an effort to pen something with a little more cheer than the heavy heartbreakers he’s turned into hits in the past. For fans who still enjoy a good cry — or who still appreciate being dunked into three minutes of suffering and depression to find perspective — ‘Set You Free’ won’t leave you waiting. It’s an album that reveals more about the singer than a phone interview every could.

ToC: Everything we’ve heard about your new album indicates a new sense of optimism in your music. Is that accurate?

Gary Allan: Yeah, you know what, I think it is accurate. A new sense of optimism just for the whole career in general. The new album, if you read it from front to back, it starts out with a song called ‘Tough Goodbye’ and it ends with ‘Good as New.’ It kinda covers every emotion of breaking up and healing in between there.

You say you’re an optimist. That might surprise some people, because often your best songs have been dark, heartbreaking songs. Did something change for you personally that inspired this new sound?

Yeah, I think I’m just in a good place. I think every album that I do you get a clear reflection of where I’m at.

I love the sad songs, too. I’d rather write that stuff. It’s more cutting to me. That’s more what I grew up on so it’s kind of hard for me to write positive. But I’m getting better at it [laughs]. I realize people don’t want to hear you be down all the time.

What is another song on ‘Set You Free’ that shows the range of emotions you talked about?

There’s a 12-step song on there called ‘It Ain’t the Whiskey’ that is one of the most powerful songs that I’ve done. I’d be shocked if it’s not a single. And I’ve been playing that one acoustically just by myself every night in the show. Getting a huge reaction.

There’s a song on there called ‘Bones,’ “I got a bone to pick with you.” Part of the anger phase.

Did you write or record anything on this album that after you finished, you almost wished you hadn’t shared because it is so personal?

I don’t think I have one of those on this album. I’ve definitely had those. There’s a song on here called ‘One More Time’ that’s really close to me. It was me thinking about when my dad passed. It’s like, ‘What will I say, standing there at the pearly gates’ — kind of a reflection song. So there’s a lot of personal songs, but usually it’s the really sad songs. Songs about my ex that I lost, stuff like that I still can’t sing. Nothing like that on this album.

You’ve been as good as anyone at bearing your soul and throwing your entire self into a song.

Thanks, to me that’s what country music is. Country music is Monday through Friday, and pop’s about what happens on the weekends.

Next: See Which Gary Allan Song Is one of the Top Love Songs of All Time

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