Dictionary.com defines freedom as "the power to determine action without restraint."
Thus, Gary Allans Set You Free is a perfectly named, well-conceived album that embodies his own evolution toward personal, creative freedom. The album, sequenced with a storyline in which a man breaks the restraints of a failed relationship and conquers the loneliness of its aftermath, is the result of Allans own journey as a man and as an artist.
He took a number of new steps during the recording process by mixing up the production team, playing lead guitar on a number of tracks, writing more of his own material and using a handful of new co-writers. As a result, he came up with the most optimistic album of his career, one that acknowledges the hurdles of the past and the ways in which theyve helped to shape his current sense of renewal.
"Its all about healing," Gary says. "Its all about the evolution of getting better."
He has, to be sure, drawn heavily from that viewpoint, mixing honky-tonk bravado and grainy isolation across eight previous studio albums, all the while mining the emotional turf that fuels a life well-lived: the joys of parenting, the heartache of personal loss, the testosterone of disagreement and the unpredictability of love. He registered four No. 1 singles "Man To Man," "Tough Little Boys," "Nothing On But The Radio" and "Watching Airplanes" in addition to such trademark hits such as the lonely "Best I Ever Had" and the swaggering "Right Where I Need To Be." Garys amassed seven gold albums in the process three of them certified platinum, as well and maintained the admiration of critics for his unwavering uniqueness.
Set You Free is at once familiar and enlightening. Fans who have followed Gary throughout his 17-year recording career will recognize the dark crevasses in the project the gnarled anger of "Bones," the honest self-examination of "It Aint The Whiskey," the sinister self-abuse of "Sand In My Soul."