As I said when I reviewed “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain),” Gary Allan’s songs can often be described as downers. Lately, however, it seems that his songs are taking on comparatively more upbeat messages. “Every Storm” had a promise within that things will get better, no matter the circumstances, and now “Pieces” takes a well-worn message of how the good and the bad parts of life can shape you.
A simple intro line like “I’ve been broken, torn and scattered” would probably be no more than a weightless motivational poster-type blurb in someone else’s hands, but Gary’s raw voice makes it sound exactly like he knows what he’s singing about. The chorus doesn’t get much more specific — “I gave a lot to lovers, gave a lot to friends / Everything I took from them made me who I am” — but the message is undeniable, and the fact that Gary co-wrote the song with the effervescent Sarah Buxton adds relatability. (Those two would sound great together on a duet, by the way.) But most importantly, the song finds Gary dealing with someone else behind the boards for the first time: specifically, Jay Joyce, whose ear for a creative arrangement is a welcome change from the constant heavy-handedness that Greg Droman and/or Mark Wright often gave him. In particular, the heavy beat on the chorus makes it pack a punch.
Gary Allan first hit the charts way back in 1996, and it’s just incredible that he has mostly been devoid of momentum. But fresh off a big #1 hit, it looks like all the “Pieces” are finally in place for further building of a career that’s already seen a lot of creative growth. And, if this song’s lyrics are as true as I believe they are, then Gary’s shown a lot of personal growth, too.