"I don't know why I love women that love to do me wrong," croons Gary Allan on the opening track to his eighth studio album. "Maybe I just get off on the pain," concedes the California-bred country singer. More Drive-By Truckers than Toby Keith, the song is a great anti-anthem carried by its confessional tone. Too bad the rest of the album doesn't measure up. Like many contemporary country albums, Get Off on the Pain has a heavy quotient of cheesy ballads. "We Fly by Night" and "She Gets Me" are rote love songs, punctuated by overindulgent guitar solos and mournful vocals. "Along the Way," another tune about trying to cope with a lifetime of mistakes, is a forthright number that benefits from Allan's husky vocal delivery and soaring strings. Allan is clearly still reeling from his wife's suicide in 2004 (Pain's final song, "No Regrets," is explicitly about her death) and the complex emotional tailspin that followed. While the album's honest tone gives it poignancy, too many of the songs suffer from pedestrian songwriting. — Niesel
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