Gary Allan, “She’s So California”

One of the most criminally overlooked staples of country music in the last decade, Gary Allan continues the course of his album Living Hard with the release of its third single, “She’s So California.”

No one would expect that Allan could reach the emotional depths of Tough All Over, his heartbreaking collection from 2005, but Living Hard made compromises that were not so evident on the last album. The uptempo numbers were a welcome relief from the raw, despairing tone of Tough All Over, but “She’s So California” is little more than album filler designed to fit comfortably between the other country radio standards of today.

Allan’s gravelly vocal will always elevate even the most inane material, and thankfully he’s recorded very little of it since his debut in 1996. But the passion and precision on his best tracks isn’t apparent here. The production is modest enough, but it’s a bit sterile. And Allan, as artistically aware as most any country artist, can’t quite capture the desire necessary to carry this song above Nashville’s assembly line of cookie-cutter country songs. It’s quite listenable, Allan’s singing is terrific once again, but “She’s So California” is a throwaway song from a true talent.

Grade: B-

Written by Gary Allan, Jamie Hanna & Jon Randall

Listen: She’s So California

Buy: She’s So California


  1. Spot on review. It’s filler, but good filler. The timing of releasing this single had to be difficul… they had to make sure there weren’t any major wildfires burning or recent earthquakes so as not to upset sensitivities. I hope Gary digs a little deeper on the next album, not necessarily emotionally, just for stronger songs.

  2. Interestingly enough, I was interning at Wrensong (Jon Randall’s publisher) last fall when this album was released and they had considered releasing this as the first single…but there were wildfires like crazy at the time.

  3. I, for one, am not happy with this choice. I very much like Allan’s latest album, but there are just so many other choices that would have made for a better release. Songs such as, “Like It’s A Bad Thing” ; “As Long As You’re Looking Back” ; “Yesterday’s Rain” or “Trying To Matter” would have, in my opinion, all been great singles. Hopefully at least one will still make it to radio. Still love Gary though.

  4. Let me first say great review, Blake! You have a real way with words.

    As a Gary Allan fan, I am disappointed in this single choice. He was one of the opening acts for the recent Kenny Chesney concert I attended, and he actually sang “Like It’s a Bad Thing.” I thought for sure that would be the next single, and a good choice at that. The last time I was in California was to see Garth. I’ll take “She’s Every Woman” over “She’s So California.”

    Maybe if he had written “She’s So Nashville” he could’ve finally gotten a must-deserved, long-overdue CMA nomination?

  5. I actually got a used Living Hard the other day for $6.99. Blake mentioned that Tough All Over had a kind of despairing tone, and that this album brought relief with some uptempo tracks. The thing is, I don’t think a bit of uptempo music is enough. What the album lacks is a tone of happiness. Obviously this doesn’t need to be true with every song, but some artists just seem incapable of sounding happy. I feel the same way about Linkin Park’s latest album, as it’s only happy sounding song is Bleed It Out.

    Anyway, now to the song itself. Why do record labels like to push mediocre songs about California to the radio? Gretchen Wilson had California Girls. Adam Gregory had She’s So California (which is different from this song) in Canada, and now we get this. I suppose lyrically it’s not bad, but I doubt many people can relate to a girl that is “so California”, nor do I think it has much significance as a song. There are more interesting topics out there to be covered, and which are covered on the rest of the album (even though I haven’t given it much of a listen yet). Still, it could be much worse.

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