Thursday, June 26, 2014

Keith Urban: Searching for a heart in Urban country

Keith Urban has released the fifth single, ‘Somewhere in My Car,’ from his No. 1 album, ‘Fuse.’

The Aussie is keeping with a car theme, since his previous single was ‘Cop Car,’ but the two songs couldn’t be more different. In his current tune, he sings, “But in my mind, we’re somewhere in my car / And it’s raining hard on the streetlight glow / You got your lips on mine, it’s gasoline on fire / I never will forget, you grabbed my shirt and pulled it over my head / And your fingertips slide up and down my back.”

Urban co-wrote the song with J.T. Harding, and played it for the sold-out crowd during the 2014 CMA Music Fest, saying it was about “reminiscing and missing an old love.”

‘Somewhere in My Car’ is part of an eclectic list of songs from ‘Fuse,’ which Urban says stemmed from a desire to reach out of his comfort zone.

“Part of the record started out from sort of a sonic, rhythmic instrumentation aspect, bringing things together that I hadn’t done before,” he explains.

“It’s been incredibly liberating, creatively, for me,” he adds. “I don’t know why that is, because I’ve always been fortunate enough to make the records I want to make. I think just working with other people has just been a really enjoyable thing.”

Urban is currently on tour in Australia, before he returns to the United States to resume his role as judge on Season 14 of ‘American Idol.’ He is set to embark on the Raise ‘Em Up Tour in July, with special guests Jerrod Niemann and Brett Eldredge. See a list of all of his upcoming shows here.

Download ‘Fuse’ here.

Before we get to the question which must be put to Our Keith, let’s acknowledge some unequivocally praiseworthy elements, beginning with the fact the man can play guitar superbly. And not just his regular flashy-but-appropriate solos but several really impressive moments on solo acoustic guitar such as Making Memories Of Us.

He is also natural and good-bloke-charming between songs: bringing to the stage a 12-year-old girl whose sign says she’s loved him for 11 years (what happened to that wasted year, mum and dad?); congratulating NSW on the Origin win as a Queenslander (via New Zealand – which as we know is in Queensland) married to a New South Welshwoman; confessing said wife (apparently she’s also well known and was somewhere in the room) had had doubts about him before they married eight years ago but graciously gave him a chance.

In a smartly produced and well paced show he packages his Australian references neatly, with Jessica Mauboy and, to even greater applause, Jimmy Barnes joining him for a curiously jaunty take on Cold Chisel’s When The War Is Over and a politely rousing Long Way To The Top. (What the permanently unnecessary Joel Madden was doing here for a wistfulness-free Wonderwall – yes, the Oasis song – is something only the TV show marketers can answer.)

But maybe most impressive of all in this context is that in performance, even if he is known as a country act, he refuses to pretend that he, these songs or this show are in any way related to country music. Whereas most modern commercial country acts throw in pedal steel occasionally, drop in a banjo solo once or twice or run through some fiddle to prove even a tenuous connection to the roots of their nominal musical label, on stage Urban says bugger that for a game of soldiers.

Sure, there’s electric banjo visible several times and a mandolin once too, but they’re buried in the mix so his opening, Love’s Poster Child, could have been an Aerosmith song in their 80s revival (clean “dirty” guitar, thick drums and Desmond Child-standard chorus) while Good Thing nods to sub-Lynyrd southern rock. Sweet Thing and Put You In A Song are crafted pop which take cues from Bryan (and certainly not Ryan) Adams while Used To The Pain comes across like Foreigner and Somewhere In My Car is straight out middle American rock which offers hope for nondescript Australian bands such as Eskimo Joe that they should change nothing except to call themselves “country”.

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