Guest post: Keith Urban “Fuse” album review

Keith Urban fuse

My radio friend Cricket Moss (Twitter:@cricketmoss) wrote a great review for Keith Urban's new album "Fuse," which hit stores today (iTunes/Amazon)
. She gave me permission to share so here you go. You can read more from Cricket on her own blog at Cricket's Frog Blog.

Guest review: 

“Fuse” is Keith Urban’s first studio album in three years, and expectations were running high. So was curiosity, as it was revealed that Keith not only enlisted the assistance of producers he’d worked with before, like Dann Huff, but also some surprising choices, like Mike Elizondo (best known for working with Eminem) and Butch Walker (Pink, Avril Lavigne). He brought in EIGHT producers in all for this record! Coulda been a “cluster,” but, for the most part, it all “fuses” together quite nicely.

Somewhere in My Car Keith certainly has a lot of songs with references to cars and driving (Put You in a Song, Days Go By, etc.). The latest is a deceptively uptempo, bright-sounding song that’s actually about a breakup. He  is bummed out about coming home to an empty apartment, wishing he could bring himself to take the pictures off the walls that only remind him of this girl that is gone. “I know you’re never coming back, But in my mind, we’re somewhere in my car…” A good song, but I’m not convinced that Keith is really the type of guy who’d live in the past and mope over some a broken relationship. Nor do I believe that any gal would be crazy enough to leave Keith Urban! 

Even the Stars Fall 4U Keith has said in interviews leading up to the release of “Fuse,” that he didn’t want to keep on making the same album over and over, and this track highlights his eagerness to think, write and play “out of the box.” This song would be more at home at Pop/ Top 40 radio than on a country station. Catchy and pleasant, in spite of the fact that the title sounds like one of those bad pickup lines in those ads.

Cop Car Keith is a little old to be singing about getting arrested with a gal and thinking “your dad is gonna kill me,” then falling in love “in the back of a cop car.” Unless he’s thinking back a good 25 years or so. Pretty little love song, and the lyrics paint a clear picture: “I was too busy watching you go wild, child, to be worried about going to jail.” Maybe Keith’s much-younger sound-alike country compadre, Hunter Hayes, would’ve been a better choice to record this song.

Shame is a stark self-examination in which Keith seemingly takes inventory of the mistakes he’s made and the people he’s hurt. “Promises I made and bills I never paid, another missed birthday, Shame on me, shame on me, Bridges that I burned and lovers that I hurt, lessons never learned, Shame on me shame on me.” Never too late to make amends, Keith! A very good candidate for a single. Shows the kind of emotional maturity I would expect from KU at this stage of his career, as opposed to the two tracks it’s sandwiched in between. (While it sounds autobiographical, Keith did not have a hand in writing this. The tune boasts no less than seven songwriters!)

Good Thing This isn’t country… but it’s still, well, a good thing! Starts out with crunchy rock guitars, then a thumpy, disco-like bass line kicks in. Lightweight lyrics, but they work with the song’s addictive groove. A cross between Keith’s earlier hit “Sweet Thing” and the 1978 Exile smash, “Kiss You All Over.” “The possibilities, Mmm they’re killin’ me, like you’re killin’ every dude in the room with the way you move,” Keith sings slyly.

We Were Us A duet featuring my favorite male and female country artists, Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert??? Thank you, God! Ladies first: Ran starts, Keith takes the second verse, and when they come together in the chorus, it’s magical! Keith has some of the best lines: “Shotgun sunset, a cool mint kiss, back seat promise, breaking it.” The hook of the chorus is, “Money was gas, dreams were dust, love was fast, and we were us.” Interesting that it was composed by three outside songwriters. I’d have been interested to hear what Keith and Miranda might’ve composed together.

Love’s Poster Child “Show Me How it’s done this side of Dixie. I’m a broke down truck, Baby, won’t you fix me?” Um. I’m glad Keith didn’t write this one! LOL But the man can sing anything with conviction!

She’s My 11 Oh, here’s my country Keithy! More conventional sound here, sounds like it coulda been a track off KU’s 2002 “Golden Road” CD. Nothing special or original in the lyrics here, but it’s great to hear Keith jamming on his ganjo!

Come Back To Me Mmm… Now this is a sexy song! A slithering, sensual rhythm, reminiscent of KU’s “You’ll Think of Me,” only that was an epic breakup song, whereas this is an overt overture of seduction. “”If there’s lips that you wanna get drunk on, Ferris wheels that you wanna get stuck on, go… See everything you think you need to see, then come back to me.” How creative… and did I already say “sexy”? Yeah, well I just said it again! Even sexier is the fact that Keith loves her enough to let her go, if she’s too free a spirit. “I wanna hold you, but I don’t wanna hold you back,” he croons. Swoon! Kinda breaks my heart that he didn’t write it, though…

Red Camaro Of course KU would include a song called “Red Camaro” on an album. I like the instrumentality of the song, ganjo and fiddle. better than the actual content of the song. “Staring at your legs on the leather of my red Camaro” sounds a little creepy, like a dude lookin’ to “get some” on the first date. (This song also brought to you by Coca Cola.)

Little Bit of Everything We’re all familiar with this one by now. The album’s affable first single recently became KU’s 15th #1 single. I still like the imagery of hanging “a disco ball from an old oak tree.” Kudos to the Warren Brothers on some great songwriting, as always. One of my favorite hook lines of the year, “I know that I don’t need a whole lot of everything, I just want a little bit of everything.”

Raise ‘Em Up (with Eric Church) I expected something more. Harder. More rockin’. This song is pure, front porch pickin’ country. Melodically, there are parts that sound like Keith plagiarized his own song, “Somebody Like You.” The phrase “Raise Them Up” doesn’t just refer to raising your beers in the air for a sudsy toast (as the presence of E.C. might lead you to believe), but also to raising your voice, your flags, your babies.

Heart Like Mine Keith gravitates to the piano for this ethereal, heartfelt ballad, which finds Keith trying to undo mistakes he’s made and salvage a relationship he’s almost destroyed. “I’m the son of a son of a headstrong man, so defensive, so full of foolish pride. But I just will not lose you, Baby…” Another decidedly un-country song, one that leads me to believe Keith has been listening to a lot of Maroon 5.

*These last three songs are “bonus” tracks” found on the Deluxe Edition of the CD. Only one of which I think is good enough to have been on the regular album.

*Black Leather Jacket These are the type of nostalgic lyrics we’ve come to expect from Kenny Chesney, who tends to revisit his youth again and again, in redundant tunes like “Young” and “I Go Back.” I wouldn’t expect to find this type of fluffernutter on a Keith Urban album. “I wore a black leather jacket way back in high school, and man, lookin’ back at these pictures of us, we were so cool…” My least favorite song on the album.

*Gonna B Good This song makes me want to don some jean shorts and swing my legs off the back of a pickup truck. Keith really lets loose on a bevy of instruments here: electric, acoustic and slide guitars, ganjo, bouzouki and baby sitar, as well as harmony vocals. A lot of KU bang for the buck! “Red sun in a lazy sky, sittin’ on the end of my hood, Turning in a Friday night, Yeah, this is gonna be good!” Great Friday night song, even if he hadn’t actually said the words “Friday night!”

*Lucky Charm A happy, fast trip that sounds like Keith probably wrote it in half an hour. It also sounds like the Gin Blossoms, back in their 1990s jangle-pop glory days.

I am much happier with Fuse than I was with KU’s last release, “Get Closer,” which I wound up giving away. I wonder and worry about the fact that Keith only wrote about half the songs on this new project, but I guess he’s making songwriters happier and a little bit richer by doing so. My faves: Shame, Come Back To Me and We Were Us. Four out of five stars.