Gary Allan brought California cool to country music like no one since Dwight Yoakam, and while he has been consistently excellent, his dues-paying is starting to offer both commercial and artistic ret

Gary Allan brought California cool to country music like no one since Dwight Yoakam, and while he has been consistently excellent, his dues-paying is starting to offer both commercial and artistic returns. Allan knows where of he sings on the Buck Owens-inflected twangfest "Guys Like Me." He moans with authority on "Can't Do It Today" and "Songs About Rain," then turns Springsteen-esque on the stubborn title cut. Allan excels on the neo-classic parental ballad "Tough Little Boys" and smolders and swaggers in "Nothing on but the Radio." The swaying "You Don't Know About Me" and mandolin/organ interplay of "I Can Love You" bespeak taste and versatility. This guy makes great records.—RW