Gary Allan – “Kiss Me When I’m Down”

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Like most of his albums, Gary Allan’s latest was rolled out to near unanimous critical acclaim. The 9513, Country Weekly and Slant each gave Get Off On The Pain four stars out of five, and I gave it 4 and ½ stars in my review for American Songwriter.

But, like most of his albums, Get Off On The Pain has achieved only a splinter of commercial success, due in large part to country radio’s typically tepid reaction to its first two singles, “Today” (which peaked at #18), and the title track (which squeaked its way into the Top 30).

The third release from the project, “Kiss Me When I’m Down,” isn’t likely to cause a sudden spike in Allan’s chart trendline. But if there were any justice in country music, it would.

Written by Andrew Dorff, Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins, “Kiss Me When I’m Down” is a masterpiece of a song about missing someone so much that you’ll let them use you, regardless of the emotional cost. “Tell me lies I won’t believe/Just don’t wake me when you leave,” Allan sings. “Come on over, kick me to the ground/Kiss me when I’m down.”

These lyrics are great. Not good, great. And while the record could do without the melodramatic strings that swell in all the typical places, Allan’s yearning vocal—as organic and gritty as ever—sounds fully connected to the pain-stricken soul of this song.

Allan’s singing on “Kiss me When I’m Down” is emotionally charged, and brilliantly draws out the song’s embedded masochism. He’s addicted to this woman like a junkie’s stuck on dope; he knows taking her in will cause him more suffering, but it’s worth it for the brief reprieve her presence offers.

Allan sells it all with the conviction of a man who’s lived it.

Performances and songs this good are rare, and finding both on one record is even rarer. “Kiss Me When I’m Down” deserves every single bit of acclaim and attention it will receive—and, no doubt, a whole lot more.

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