Set You Free (album)

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Set You Free
Gary Allan - Set You Free.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJanuary 22, 2013 (2013-01-22)
LabelMCA Nashville
Gary Allan chronology
Set You Free
Singles from Set You Free
  1. "Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)"
    Released: September 17, 2012
  2. "Pieces"
    Released: February 25, 2013
  3. "It Ain't the Whiskey"
    Released: September 23, 2013

Set You Free is the ninth studio album by American country rock artist Gary Allan. It was released on January 22, 2013, by MCA Nashville.,[2][3] and is Allan's inaugural No 1. album on the Billboard 200 chart, debuting at the top spot on February 9, 2013. It is also Allan's second No. 1 album on the Top Country Albums chart, following 2005's Tough All Over. The album produced three singles: "Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)", "Pieces", and "It Ain't the Whiskey".


Gary Allan talked to The Boot writer Vernell Hackett, and Allan commented on the time during making of this album was one of transition for his label. In addition, Allan noted how he worked with producers in a competitive effort to make this album better.[4]

I recorded the album during the transition of label heads and no one realized what I was doing until I turned it in...When you have one producer, you sometimes allow a song to get in there as an album cut. But with different producers, each one is competing to have the best songs and hopefully songs that are good enough to be released as singles, so I think the overall album and the quality of songs were better because of it. I forced myself to stretch on this one, because I had time, and I think you need to do something new to keep reinventing yourself.

— Gary Allan, [4]

Gary Allan talked to The Boot writer Vernell Hackett, and Allan mentioned the title came from the lead single from the album because it is what the effort as a whole is all about.[4]

That's like the flavor of every song on there...The whole album has hope and was timely for me, too. I've waited a long time to get back on the radio.

— Gary Allan, [4]

Gary Allan talked to The Boot writer Vernell Hackett, and Allan stated the album's songs are set to the arc of a relationship.[4]

When I got the songs in the order I liked I realized what I had done was create a story line so that it played like a breakup...The first song is 'Tough Goodbye,' and then I went through all the emotions of a breakup, all way to the healing song, 'Good as New.' So the album covers the gamut of a breakup and the first stages of healing.

— Gary Allan, [4]

Commercial performance[edit]

On February 9, 2013, Set You Free was the most sold album in the United States by the Billboard 200 chart, as well as, the most sold Country Album the same week on the charts. In addition, the album was the second most sold Digital Album, which it was the No. 13 most sold album in Canada, and this was all for this same week on the charts. As of March 6, 2013, the album has sold 219,000 copies.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
About.com3.5/5 stars[7]
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[1]
American Songwriter3.5/5 stars[8]
Got Country Online5/5 stars[9]
PopMatters7/10 stars[10]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[11]
Roughstock3.5/5 stars[12]
Taste of Country4.5/5 stars[13]
USA Today4/4 stars[14]

Upon its release, Set You Free received generally positive reviews from most music critics.[6] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 78, based on 7 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[6]

The album has only garnered positive reviews, so far. Those came in from, AllMusic, American Songwriter, The Boston Globe, Country Weekly, Entertainment Weekly, Got Country Online, The Plain Dealer, PopMatters, Rolling Stone, Roughstock, Taste of Country, and the USA Today. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic gave the album a three-and-a-half-out-of-five-star rating, saying that the album is "one where all of his past is present in his assured professionalism."[1] Likewise, American Songwriter music critic Alanna Conaway rated it the same, and wrote that "Set You Free will give his long-time followers more than they could have hoped for, while garnering new fans coast-to-coast."[8] In addition, Stuart Munro of The Boston Globe also rated it the same, which is based on Metacritic's assigned score, and stated that "[Allan] may offer less of an alternative than he once did, but that old-school concern and a wider sonic palette keep Allan just this side of the mainstream."[15] Similarly, Rolling Stone music critic Chuck Eddy gave it the same rating as well, and evoked how "the 45-year-old singer lets the crazy out" on the album.[11] Furthermore, Dan MacIntosh of Roughstock even gave it the same exact rating and wrote that "Many of these song lyrics are intensely self-directed" that are meant for "that tragic guy at the end of the bar" and proclaimed how the album is "fun, but all over before you know it. Then you’re back to crying away your blues."[12] Lastly, music critic Robert Silva rated it the same himself, and noted how "Set You Free can use these jolts of energy, but Allan still seems at his best -- and definitely in his comfort zone -- when he's maudlin, morose, and three sheets to the wind."[7]

The Plain Dealer's Chuck Yarborough graded the album a perfect A+ grade, and alluded to how "'Set You Free' boasts of the typical Allan sound – a sort of lonesome dove lament in his voice – but there’s also an in-your-face stab at belligerence called 'Bones' that runs contrary to form."[16] Bob Paxman of Country Weekly gave the album an A grade and affirmed that "Set You Free doesn't sound like every other album coming out of the Nashville factory these days—and that's definitely a good thing."[17] Paxman went on to describe how "[t]he album flows freely, again as the title might suggest, and the divergent styles truly complement one another."[17] On the other hand, Grady Smith of Entertainment Weekly graded the album a B+ grade, and alluded to "how Gary Allan is beginning to let a small amount of sunshine in."[17]

PopMatters' Matt Cibula give the album a seven-stars-out-of-ten rating and acclaimed that "[t]his album is the truth."[10] Taste of Country's Billy Dukes rated the album even better, giving it a four-and-a-half-out-of-five. He noted how "[e]ach track is a surprise that pays off handsomely when the time is invested."[13] Donna Block of Got Country Online rated in a perfect five-stars and evoked how "[i]t is said a picture is worth a thousand words," and saying, "Here the lyrics sketch out what the music (and Gary’s vocals) paints in bold, rich colors. Here is a mix of old and new country, blended with acceptance and hope throughout."[9] Finally, USA Today music critic Brian Mansfield also rated it a perfect four star effort, and wrote, "It's a hard-won hope. Brooding songs, like the one where's he's digging a grave for an unsuspecting, unfaithful love, are as scary as hell."[14] Mansfield concluded saying, "Gary Allan has [...] lived a life that most other country acts can, well, only sing about. That's why the cracks in Allan's voice convey experience, not affection, and why he doesn't have to sing about how country he is for everyone to know."[14]

Track listing[edit]

1."Tough Goodbye"Josh Thompson, Tony MartinJay Joyce3:14
2."Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)"Gary Allan, Hillary Lindsey, Matt WarrenAllan, Greg Droman3:46
3."Bones"Keith GattisAllan, Droman3:54
4."It Ain't the Whiskey"Greg Barnhill, Jim Daddario, Cole DeggsJoyce4:20
5."Sand in My Soul"Brad Warren, Brett Warren, Blair DalyAllan, Droman3:19
6."You Without Me"Allan, John Lancaster, Rachel ProctorAllan, Droman3:55
7."One More Time"Allan, Lindsey, M. WarrenJoyce5:25
8."Hungover Heart"James Leblanc, M. WarrenAllan, Mark Wright3:48
9."No Worries"Allan, Odie Blackmon, Pat McLaughlinAllan, Wright3:18
10."Drop"Joel Shewmake, Bruce Wallace, Brian Gene WhiteJoyce4:15
11."Pieces"Allan, Blackmon, Sarah BuxtonJoyce3:24
12."Good as New"Billy Burnette, McLaughlinAllan, Wright3:35
Total length:46:13[1]


Chart performance[edit]

Weekly charts
Chart (2013) Peak
Canadian Albums Chart 13
US Billboard 200 1
US Billboard Top Country Albums 1
US Billboard Top Digital Albums 2
Year-end charts
Chart (2013) Position
US Billboard 200[19] 87
US Top Country Albums (Billboard)[20] 21
Year Single Peak chart positions Certifications
US Country US Country Airplay US CAN Country
2012 "Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)" 1 1 26 1 41 * US: Platinum[22]
2013 "Pieces" 29 18 105 34
"It Ain't the Whiskey" 40 36
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


  1. ^ a b c d Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (January 22, 2013). "Set You Free – Gary Allan : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  2. ^ Duvall, Erin (December 17, 2012). "Gary Allan, 'Set You Free' Track List, Album Art Revealed". The Boot. Retrieved December 25, 2012.
  3. ^ Whitaker, Sterling (December 18, 2012). "Gary Allan Announces Release Date, Track Listing for Upcoming Album 'Set You Free'". Taste of Country. Retrieved December 25, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Hackett, Vernell (January 22, 2013). "Gary Allan, 'Set You Free' Is an Emotional, Hopeful Journey". The Boot. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  5. ^ Matt Bjorke. "Country Album Chart News For March 6, 2013: The Return of The Mavericks & Emmylou Harris". RoughStock.
  6. ^ a b c "Set You Free, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
  7. ^ a b Silva, Robert (January 22, 2013). "Gary Allan – 'Set You Free' Album Review". Retrieved February 22, 2013.
  8. ^ a b Conaway, Alanna (January 22, 2013). "Gary Allan: Set You Free". American Songwriter. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  9. ^ a b Block, Donna (January 20, 2013). "ALBUM REVIEW: Gary Allan "Set You Free"". Got Country Online. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
  10. ^ a b Cibula, Matt (February 15, 2013). "Gary Allan: Set You Free". PopMatters. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
  11. ^ a b Eddy, Chuck (January 28, 2013). "Gary Allan: Set You Free (MCA Nashville)". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  12. ^ a b MacIntosh, Dan (January 21, 2013). "Album Review: Gary Allan – Set You Free". Roughstock. Archived from the original on January 27, 2013. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  13. ^ a b Dukes, Billy (January 24, 2013). "Gary Allan, 'Set You Free' – Album Review". Taste of Country. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  14. ^ a b c Mansfield, Brian (January 22, 2013). "Gary Allan does outlaw right on 'Set You Free'". USA Today. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  15. ^ Munro, Stuart (January 21, 2013). "ALBUM REVIEW: Gary Allan, 'Set You Free' – Music". The Boston Globe. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  16. ^ Yarborough, Chuck (January 18, 2013). "Gary Allan's new 'Set You Free' is a lesson in healing from a man who knows pain (review)". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
  17. ^ a b c Paxman, Bob (January 22, 2013). "Set You Free by Gary Allan". Country Weekly. Retrieved January 29, 2013. Cite error: The named reference "CW" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  18. ^ "Set You Free". Discogs. Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  19. ^ "Billboard 200 Albums: Year-End top-selling albums across all genres". Billboard.
  20. ^ "Top Country Albums: 2013 Year-End Charts". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  21. ^ "Gary Allan Album & Song Chart History – Canada Country". Billboard. Retrieved November 20, 2013.
  22. ^ "American single certifications – Gary Allan – Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH.