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Country - Released January 1, 2007 | Capitol Nashville

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Keith Urban had a rough go of it in late 2006, when the tour for his brilliant Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing was delayed fore health-related reasons. Urban has nonetheless been a road dog in 2007, and this greatest-hits package couldn't have come at a better time. Covering eight years, these are not merely album cuts, but in most cases the actual radio edits of hit singles -- album lengths are generally longer -- so these are the actual versions of tunes that made country radio and the video channels, so it doesn't replicate previous collections. From "I Told You So" and "Making Memories of Us" it goes right on through to the far more powerful version of "Days Go By" and "Where the Blacktop Ends." The 16 catalog tracks top what is the norm for compilations like this, which usually stop at ten or twelve cuts. But there's a bit more; a lot more actually. There are two new tracks that lead this baby off, and the first one's a doozie. "Romeo's Tune" was written by Steve Forbert who, back in the mid- and late '70s, was the next up-and-comer on the songwriting scene (and who appeared on an early Cyndi Lauper video), who has been compared to both Bob Dylan and John Prine, but at the time, his brand of easy, open rock was far more refreshing than that of either of those comparisons. The song is a great fit for Urban, whose voice has just enough graininess in it to recall the original, but it also rocks harder. Urban is faithful to the original but lets his guitar do plenty of talking in the mix. This should be released as a new single to country radio and hopefully there'll be a video coming to boot. The other bonus is "Got It Right This Time (The Celebration)," which was self-penned. It begins with a B-3 and a Fender Rhodes, a slippery drum loop, and one of those trademark, mid-tempo love ballad hooks that Urban can write all day long. Given his travails over the past few years, this sounds like a love song for his new wife, Nicole Kidman. That's conjecture, but given that it was written in 2006, it's a pretty good bet. When the guitars open up and the snare starts to crack, Urban's croon glides over this soulful, easy rocker and builds to a killer bridge where the electric six-strings, percussion, organ, and piano swell to the bursting point and it's all joy. Bottom line: it's one of the great romantic rockers of 2007. Equal parts Tom Petty, Don Henley, and Bob Seger, it's a country-pop song that will go down as one of his best. Clocking in at almost 76 minutes, this is a comp for the fans, and for the uninitiated as well. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Pop - Released September 18, 2020 | Keith Urban LP11

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Keith Urban takes the title of the first song, "Out the Cage," on his 11th album literally—a plea for breaking free from oppression and boredom, it's also a silky disco track that expands the country singer's horizons by roping in Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers and rapper Breland. Urban has said that around a third of The Speed of Now Part I was written and recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, and it seems to have emboldened him to throw a few curveballs. He also surprises with trap beats on "Forever" and "Say Something." "Tumbleweed" serves up '70s country-rock sass that suits Urban well. And the finger-snapping, Jason Mraz-esque "One Too Many" is an irresistible duet with Pink that makes a solid case for the pop singer to record a country record herself. But for the most part, the album is Urban doing what's made him a star: mid-tempo numbers, and the occasional ballad, about chasing love, memories and a better life. His voice cracks in all the right places on "Live With," an inspirational ode to dreaming big ("I'd rather live a life I can learn with, swerve with, twist and turn with, take a 90-mile-an-hour curve with"). The metaphor of fast curves is a theme, in fact, popping up again on the catchy "Superman," along with blazing guitar and a healthy dose of rose-colored hindsight: "We were Johnny and June in a ring of fire." The last quarter of the album really shines. "God Whispered Your Name" gives FM-radio soft rock a good name, with its moody organ, lush chorus and appealingly cheesy lyrics ("When God whispered your name, that's when everything changed, love came out of the rain, talk about being saved"). The bubbly "Polaroid" feels as effervescent as a Miller High Life, while piano ballad "Better Than I Am" is a swooning thing of torchy beauty. And early single "We Were" presents an odd-couple pairing that works incredibly well. Written by modern outlaw Eric Church, it delves into the Americana nostalgia he loves: leather jackets and Harleys, feet hanging out over the edge of a water tower, lighter in the air for "Pour Some Sugar on Me." When the two singers trade verses— Urban's sweet slickness up against Church's bad-boy scruff—it's kind of magic. © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz
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Country - Released January 1, 2004 | Capitol Nashville

Keith Urban has been a consistent presence in the country charts since 2000, scoring eight consecutive entries as of the release of his third U.S. solo album, Be Here (the eighth being this disc's leadoff track, "Days Go By"). And there's plenty more where that came from. Unlike most other country artists, Urban doesn't restrict his albums to ten selections from the Nashville songwriting establishment. This one contains 13 songs at a generous 55-minute running time, and Urban's name is on nine of them as a co-writer. Thus, the collection can be viewed as more of a singer/songwriter effort than the usual Music City product. From that point of view, the album has a distinct storytelling arc, beginning with the carpe diem sentiments of "Days Go By" and continuing into a series of songs that celebrate life and love, notably Rodney Crowell's unabashedly romantic "Making Memories of Us," which finds Urban doing his best Crowell imitation. Suggestions of struggle begin to intrude as of "God's Been Good to Me," however -- and after seven songs, Urban abruptly changes the sound and the mood with a piano-and-strings weeper, "Tonight I Wanna Cry." "She's Gotta Be" picks up the pace, if not the mood, and Matraca Berg and Jim Collins' "Nobody Drinks Alone" brings the singer to a sodden rock bottom before he changes the subject by covering Elton John's "Country Comfort" and finally overcomes adversity in "Live to Love Another Day," then rewrites the album's opening song to look forward again on the album-closing "These Are the Days." The album-length story of optimism and perseverance in the face of romantic turmoil and alcoholic temptation is told musically with Urban's usual collection of fast-picked string instruments, including electric and acoustic guitars, banjo, mandolin, and Dobro (the last played by Bruce Bouton). It's a muscular sound indebted at least as much to rock and bluegrass as to traditional country, but it supports his light, flexible tenor and his essentially upbeat message. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Country - Released January 1, 2005 | Capitol Nashville

A New Zealand-born songwriter who moved to America during the 1990s, Keith Urban established a base for himself in Nashville a decade or so before this release, and while he certainly draws from country's long tradition in his music, he also infuses it with a healthy dose of good ol' rock & roll attitude. This isn't anything new in Nashville, mind you, but Urban also happens to be one heck of a guitar player, and his seemingly boundless enthusiasm for the job means his version of rocking country doesn't sound like a studied hybrid, but instead appears as effortless and natural as the wind blowing down a freeway. Add to this Urban's refreshing optimism, and songs like "Days Go By," "Somebody Like You," and "Better Life" explode out of the speakers like joyous new beginnings. Days Go By is a European compilation that combines most of the tracks from 2004's Be Here with a few from 2002's Golden Road, creating what amounts to an introductory anthology of Urban's early work for Capitol Records. © Steve Leggett /TiVo
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Country - Released January 13, 2014 | Hit Red Records

The Fuse, Keith Urban's first album in three years, delivers a slicker, more sophisticated version of his solitary demo recording process as a radical sounding change in direction. Throughout, he melds drum machines, synths and samplers with his guitars, banjos, mandolins and voice. Urban's experience as a judge on American Idol also contributes to his song and production choices--he's heard enough commercial pop to know what works. If ever a contemporary country record was strategically created to crossover, this is it. Recorded in California and Nashville, Urban employed a slew of co-producers, songwriters, and co-writers. The set's clever first single, "Little Bit Of Everything" with its punchy handclaps, hip hop rhythms and pulsing synth, underscores his banjo and stinging guitar; his voice accents the hook and rings clear above it all. "Even The Stars Fall 4 U," is introduced by thrumming, brittle loops, enormous handclaps, a nasty guitar vamp, and a chorus shouting "Hey!" Though the banjo-drenched melody is subtler, the anthemic chorus explodes. The muted drum loop that fuels the shimmering "Cop Car," is layered in atmospherics worthy of Achtung Baby, but the melody is pure country. Miranda Lambert duets on what initially appears to be the purest country tune on the set, but that's a feint as well. The chorus is pure pop, with crisscrossing cut-time rhythms accenting the end of every line. The layered, mid tempo ballad, "Shame" was co-written and co-produced by the Norwegian hip hop/ R&B team Stargate, with synths hovering through the loop-saturated backdrop. Another ballad, "Come Back To Me," co-produced by Urban and Butch Walker, is deeply indebted to Daniel Lanois' warm-as-bathwater production style, with subdued sopnics, edgeless rhythms, rounded and heavily reverbed guitars and keys. Only his voice is crystalline. The hook is less pronounced but ever present, with a restrained dynamic slowly building to a climax. Contrast this with "Red Camaro," with its rattling banjo, bright, 90s-era drum loop, zig-zagging synths, a fiddle that sounds like an outtake from Dexy's Too-Rye-Aye, and a crisp meld of acoustic and electric guitars under Urban's multi-tracked (and perhaps pitch-enhanced) vocals. The numerous production dimensions here sometimes mask this set's almost uniformly good songs---the muddied textures that overshadow "Raise 'Em Up"--an otherwise fine duet with Eric Church. The set finishes strong with the "Heart Like Mine," another galloping anthem whose rhythmic punch and cadence sound like they came from Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill." For all the piecemeal recording, technological obsession and sheer ambition on the Fuse, Urban manages to fashion it all into a (mostly) working whole and maintain his identity as a contemporary country artist, even as he reaches for the mainstream pop fences. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Country - Released February 27, 2020 | Keith Urban LP11

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Country - Released January 1, 2005 | Capitol Nashville

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Country - Released January 1, 2002 | Capitol Nashville

Keith Urban's second release for Capitol Records is an early yet devastatingly original piece of work that pointed the way toward his later albums, and it proves him partially responsible for the diverse musical traditions that made their way into the contemporary country scene during the 21st century. While others like Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, and Travis Tritt modeled a sound that included Southern and '70s rock, Urban brought bluegrass, Top 40 pop stylings, and drum loops into the mix, and made them all work in his own songs as well as those he covered. Produced by Urban and Dan Huff, Golden Road is the first place listeners really get to hear the monster guitar slash-and-burn that's so prevalent in his live performances. The album contains two Urban originals in the beautiful, lithe ballad "You're Not Alone Tonight" and the shuffling soft rocker "Song for Dad," both of which showcase the blend of sounds he would later employ as his own trademark mix. The set also contains a pair of excellent cuts by Rodney Crowell, which are particularly suitable, and perhaps were even tailor-made for Urban in "You Won" and "What About Me." The ballad "Raining on Sunday" was originally written by Darrell Brown, as was the other single "You'll Think of Me." Tony Martin's "You Look Good in My Shirt" is a delightfully stinging rocker, and Monty Powell's "Who Wouldn't Want to Be Me" is another, with Urban playing the strings off his banjo as well as electric guitar. Although his later records were bigger hits, this one is consistent enough -- and full of such charm and personality -- that it's difficult to believe Urban didn't write everything here. That he owns these songs as if he did write them makes Golden Road a lasting early achievement. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Pop - Released September 18, 2020 | Keith Urban LP11

As a title, The Speed of Now, Vol. 1 suggests Keith Urban is thoroughly inhabiting the present moment -- a tricky task at any time but one that was particularly fraught in September 2020, when the world was still in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic. Faced with some unexpected downtime, Urban polished off his sequel to 2018's Graffiti U, completing about a third of the record after the world went into lockdown. Unlike, say, Taylor Swift's folklore, The Speed of Now, Vol. 1 (as of its release, no second volume was planned; shades of Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1), does not feel contemplative or introspective. Even at its slowest moments, it's a bright, cheerful affair, one anchored with lite R&B rhythms and bearing a sunny disposition. All this means that The Speed of Now rarely feels like a country album, at least in the conventional sense. Some of the themes and some of the melodies carry a distinctly country imprint and when Eric Church stops by to sing a couple of verses on "We Were" (added as a bonus track here, directly following Urban's solo version), he sounds welcome but when P!nk duets on "One Too Many," she sounds at home. Urban feels very comfortable navigating the territory that separates pop, country, and soul, happy to emphasize the softer side of each. He winds up with a modern sound -- it's a busy digital production, filled with skittering drum tracks and thick overdubs -- but The Speed of Now, Vol. 1 almost feels old-fashioned in how it turns 2010s sounds into adult contemporary. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Released January 1, 1999 | Capitol Nashville

Keith Urban's solo debut for American audiences (released after the breakup of his former group, the Ranch) may seem a bit quaint now that he's become a superstar. But back in 1997 when this album was released, Urban looked like a fresh-faced kid who was entering the U.S. market as a virtual unknown. Truth is, he made his recording debut in his native Australia in 1991, and had been on the radar of Nashville's A&R men for years. This album proves why. There are four Urban originals here, each one showcasing his knack for writing in numerous styles that all fit into the expanding country radio format. He could marry a rock tune or pop ballad to a country melody, set it off with just the right amount of heartfelt emotion, and lace it with appropriate production, whether it be playing the banjo or adding strings to the mix. He and co-producer Matt Rollings also selected a mostly winning combination of tunes to fill the remainder of the disc, including Monty Powell's fiddle drenched barnstormer "It's a Love Thing," Charlotte Caffey's mid-tempo ballad "But for the Grace of God," and "Rollercoaster," which marked Urban's first signal towards the contemporary country community that he wasn't just a pretty face who could sing. The track is a guitar scorcher from top to bottom, with Urban playing guitar like he was Randy Scruggs' younger brother, flat picking his Stratocaster like it was another extremity he was born with. This and other such moments balance the slick and sometimes too-soft production on the record; as such, the album marks the true root of his sound as a major artist wetting his feet. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 17, 2020 | Keith Urban LP11

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Country - Released January 1, 1997 | Capitol Nashville

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Pop - Released April 24, 2020 | Capitol Records Nashville

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Country - Released January 1, 2006 | Capitol Nashville

Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing was released on November 7, 2006, just days after Keith Urban voluntarily entered an alcohol treatment center. Having married actress Nicole Kidman just months before, his timing couldn't be better. After all, Urban is trying to get well at the very peak of his life thus far, both personally and professionally, and an album this enjoyable needs a healthy person to support it. Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing is slicker than anything Urban has issued before, but it's also more ambitious, representing a giant leap forward from 2004's Be Here. Urban is a rocking guitarist, a complete wildman on the electric six-string, and he combines his tough, unhinged approach to the instrument with pop melodies and utterly brilliant production elements that layer strings, drum loops, fiddles, banjos, E-Bows, and Hammond B-3s. Add a songwriting style that touches on the classic elements of rock, country, and mainstream pop, and you have something that hasn't been heard in the country genre in such a cohesive way before. That's right -- the album is further proof of Urban's ability to stretch the genre to the breaking point by bringing in more of modern pop's elements, while remaining firmly within Nashville's good graces. Song by song, this albums feels as if there isn't anything he can't do. Sharing production credit with Dan Huff, Urban wrote (or, in some cases, co-wrote) ten of the album's 13 cuts -- there's a hidden track buried in the CD-ROM portion of the disc. The production is thoroughly modern, but also feels like the country equivalent of George Martin. It's positively baroque in places, and there is so much packed in that it almost feels claustrophobic, even though he makes it work beautifully. No record since Neil Diamond's brilliant Beautiful Noise -- produced by the Band's Robbie Robertson -- has sounded so regal and inviting. The album's first single, "Once in a Lifetime," opens the set; it entered the Billboard chart at number 17, the highest debuting single since the chart's inception. But the shock is simply that it's not the best track on the record. Urban has packed this disc with fine writing and excellent, even defining versions of the songs he chose to cover. There are a number of rockers, including "Faster Car," with its smoking, funky bassline, layered power chords, and his "ganjo" that rings above the horn section, and "I Told You So," which uses acoustic guitars, fiddles, and the ganjo to usher in some twisting, minor-key electrics. Both songs are based on tight little hooks, and both build to the breaking point while allowing Urban's voice to soar above the instruments. On the latter tune, Uilleann pipes and bouzouki are layered into the mix in a melody that brings to bear Celtic cowboy lyric frames and tribal rhythms. The whole thing explodes near the end, when Urban cuts loose in a serious, distortion-laden guitar wrangle. "Shine," which begins as a shimmering country-pop tune, is another example, as a string section and his unhinged soloing battle for dominance in the nearly unbearable climax. "I Can't Stop Loving You," written by Billy Nichols, is another climatic tune, but it becomes one of the great modern country love songs with its incessant reaching to its crescendo, which is provided by an army of strings and big power chords. "Used to the Pain," written with Darrell Brown, is a stealthy rocking love song that drips with emotion. The down-home anthem "Raise the Barn," a duet with Ronnie Dunn, was written in reaction to the destruction done by Hurricane Katrina. Urban can also write a shuffling country-rocker with the best of them. Urban didn't pen "God Made Woman," but his version makes the track his own. Beginning with a choir (somewhat smaller and yet reminiscent of the Rolling Stones on "You Can't Always Get What You Want"), the cut quickly becomes a loud and proud country-rock anthem that celebrates -- not objectifies -- women. "Tu Compañía" is a way funky country two-step love song driven by the ganjo. Yeah. Funky. The album's final cut, "Got It Right This Time," sounds like a homemade demo by the rest of the album's standards, with Urban handling drum machine and keyboard chores while singing. That said, it's far from substandard and certainly belongs here, as it showcases Urban's voice in all its unadorned grandeur and reveals the influence of soul music on his singing. Those who wish to decry Urban as some kind of slick, formulaic songwriter and flavor of the country music moment are missing the point. The man writes honest, beautifully crafted songs that are adult enough to ponder, tough enough to rock, and tender enough to pull -- not tug -- on the heartstrings. As previously stated, there's no better time to get well than when you're at the top of your game. While Urban's previous records have all had their moments -- and Be Here was his true arrival -- Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing is his mature pop masterpiece. For all its wonder and expertise, it feels like it's just a taste of what he'll be offering in the future. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Country - Released January 1, 2005 | Capitol Nashville

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Country - Released February 27, 2020 | Capitol Records Nashville

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Country - Released January 1, 2005 | Capitol Nashville

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Pop - Released July 17, 2020 | Keith Urban LP11

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Country - Released January 1, 2006 | Capitol Nashville

Country - Released November 18, 2020 | UMG Recordings, Inc.

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Keith Urban in the magazine