Gary Allan | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The slinkiest sexy song of last year came from one of those cowboy-hatted journeymen even country fans have trouble telling apart: Gary Allan's "Nothing On but the Radio" was a late-night sway hooked to the sort of mild, self-explanatory pun that's Nashville's gift to the American vernacular. Here was just the thing for middle-aged marrieds seeking a nonchemical cure for erectile dysfunction, sung in the warm, husky voice of a man comfortable enough in his masculinity not to be all pushy and macho about it, and smooth and experienced enough not to confuse hyperventilation with heavy breathing. With that song--and the rest of his most recent album, See if I Care (MCA Nashville)--Allan made good on a decade's worth of potential, finally balancing his easy-rocking yet intense Bakersfield sound with the required Music City radio friendliness. The wordplay doesn't always sparkle--lines like "When tough little boys grow up to be dads / They turn into big babies again" should be left to full-time cornballs like Kenny Chesney. But someone in Allan's camp has great taste in songwriters: on his hit "Songs About Rain," he transcends meteorological cliches in the bravest manner possible--by burying himself in them all the way up to his tear ducts. John Eddie opens. Thu 5/12, 9 PM, Joe's, 940 W. Weed, 312-337-3486 or 312-559-1212, sold out.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Tony Baker.

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