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Gary Allan Works Through Grief in <i>Tough All Over</i>

Country singer Gary Allan, 37, has spent the past year grieving the sudden loss of his wife Angela. As VOA's Mary Morningstar tells us, the southern California native worked through his grief by writing songs for his latest album, "Tough All Over."

Following the October 2004 suicide of Gary Allan's wife of three years, the singer says he could have ignored that the tragic event had happened or make music that would help him heal. He chose the latter. That meant shelving plans to continue promoting potential hits from his previous album, See If I Care, which reflected a happier time in his life.

Prior to Angela's death, Gary's career had reached new levels of success. During the past few years, he dominated the Country chart with a string of hits that included the Number One songs "Man To Man," "Tough Little Boys" and "Nothing On But The Radio."

Making his new album was a therapeutic experience for Gary, who says, "I reached inside myself to get some honest life into the songs. When I was in the studio, it was the same kind of thing. Listening to the music and being there with my friends was comforting. I absolutely had to work through what had happened through music."

"Just Got Back From Hell" is one of four songs Gary wrote for Tough All Over. The album's other eight tracks are equally mournful and contemplative. Unlike Gary's previous albums, there are no love songs on Tough All Over. He says losing Angela was too difficult to try to evoke those emotions.

Tough All Over sold close to 100,000 copies its first week in record stores, which led to a Number One debut on Billboard's Country Albums chart. Gary heard the news while on tour in Australia.

"I poured my soul into Tough All Over," he said. "I have always spoken through my music, and I am very grateful that what I have to say continues to connect with the fans."

The album's first single, "Best I Ever Had," is Gary's version of a song originally recorded by the rock band Velvet Horizon.