Gary Allan Returns with “Waste of a Whiskey Drink”

Gary Allan attempting to relaunch his career on radio has now morphed from a storyline into a bonafide saga. His latest attempt is the song “Waste of a Whiskey Drink” written by Josh Kear, Michael Hardy, and Mark Holman, and has been released to the public and radio from a still unnamed album fans have been waiting some five years for.

A cautionary tale about spending your hard earned cash on a shot for that cute little lady at the end of the bar, it recounts in rewind how all it will lead to is headache and heartbreak when she leaves you in six months and ruins your life. Consider it the opposite of songs that compel you into taking a chance and remind you that you can never win if you don’t play the game.

“Waste of a Whiskey Drink” is an interesting twist on a drinking song for sure, but even though Gary and the writers seem to want you to think that it’s about a specific girl who is trouble, the song seems to compel you to just sit and drink alone in general, and never try your hand at love. We’ve also received plenty of “whiskey” songs from 2nd tier mainstream country stars lately, which seems to be the way you can still claim some country cred, while still delivering a buzzword radio listeners will identify with. Slipping in a reference to “drunk texting” also helps keep this song relevant to Millennials, even if it will make some older fans wince.

Typical for Gary Allan, the song takes a distinctly rock approach to country, with little twang or roots sticking out from the production. But compared to when Allan tried his hand at R&B country similar to Sam Hunt and Thomas Rhett with “Hangover Tonight” in 2015, it’s a step in the right direction. Gary Allan was recently quoted as saying he was happy to see country swing back around to a 90’s trend recently with artists like Luke Combs, and that he’s excited to get back into that action. “Waste of a Whiskey Drink” isn’t exactly that, but it’s much closer, with an interesting bass line and sensible production for radio.

But the more global question is why Gary Allan continues trying to probe radio with singles, which hasn’t gone well for him. 2015’s “Hangover Tonight” settled at #41, 2016’s “Do You Wish It Was Me” stalled at #57, and 2017’s “Mess Me Up” ended at #45. Gary Allan has always been hit and miss with country radio, though he pulled off four #1’s and eleven Top 10’s total during his heyday. With an artist like Gary Allan, it’s going to be less about the individual song, and more about the effort by the label to promote it. That’s the name of the game in 2020.

But Gary Allan is the perfect artist to mature beyond trying for the next radio hit and to just start doing what he wants. With a solid fan base and strong tour history, the 52-year-old is well-established, and could do just as much injury as good trying to chase trends. Luckily with “Waste of a Whiskey Drink,” it finds both Gary Allan and country trending back towards where they belong, even if it still leaves some to be desired.

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