“Learning How To Bend”, the second single from Gary Allan’s Living Hard, is a refreshingly mature lyric that allows Allan to show off his vocal abilities. The genius of the lyric is the duality in which it can convey the emotions of a person who has found love for the first time or someone who is trying to overcome the emotional scarring of a previous relationship as they try to cope with the intricacies of a new one, while at the same time being mature enough to acknowledge the ground that needs to be covered to make the relationship work. It doesn’t make for good background fodder, but if anyone actually listens to it, they’ll realize the emotional depth and Allan’s own past only adds to the complexity.
Living Hard, tended toward rock more than his previous releases and the rock influences are apparent in “Learning How To Bend,” but no more so than the influx of southern rockers and their loud guitar work that drown out their shouting vocals. The focus here is solely on Allan’s impressive vocal performance that finds him showing off his chops by dropping a few falsettos without having to reach for them and the production doesn’t do anything to take away from that.
Despite my initial disappointment with the album, it’s grown on me, and the truth is that there are a number of sufficiently strong songs that will hopefully do well at radio, “Learning How To Bend” included.
Songwriters: Gary Allan, James LeBlanc, and Matt Warren