Ruthless, Gary Allan’s new album and his most commanding work ever, tells the story of the move of the Nashville country business — often as confusing as it has been successful — from the 1990s to right now, when it hums along silently, smack in the middle of what industry folks call The Streaming Era.
Simple nostalgia is the last thing on the album’s mind. To arrive at this rocking, swinging, loud, subtle, funny, sad, tricky, and sizzling suite of thirteen songs, Allan has refused to rush: He has afforded himself what probably is, certainly as the 2020s have unfolded, today’s supreme luxury: time.
Ruthless is an old-school West Coast tell–it–like-it-is, and it is a new Gary Allan album, super-deluxe, as well. It is modern as all hell. It lives off the literary chops of country songwriting immemorial. Yet it intertwines finely the innovations of Nashville in the ‘90s with Nashville in 2021.