Keith Urban

Love, Pain and the Whole Crazy Thing | Capitol
By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  November 20, 2006
3.0 3.0 Stars
Australia-born Keith Urban is modern country music’s only real rock star. He’s good-looking and youthful, plays Telecaster solos like a bad-ass, gets the hot chicks (hell, he just married Nicole Kidman), and is currently in rehab. So the title of his fourth solo album rings poignant. But to read his songs as pages torn from his diary is to discredit his craftsmanship. Urban has the market wisdom to balance his artistic efforts with assembly-line Nashville pop-chart fodder. Which explains why glitzy rockers like “Faster Car,” sugary, hook-loaded ballads like “Shine,” and the King Kong-sized chorus of “Once in a Lifetime” — a fat radio sop — share space with textured, emotionally complex numbers like “I Can’t Stop Loving You” and “Stupid Boy.” The former explores the courage it takes to let go of a love, starting with acoustic guitar and piling on subtle instrumental textures as it unfolds; “Stupid Boy” is a brightly written tale of loss and self-discovery. Both songs peak with Urban’s wailing solos, which supply palpable emotional release and sport a bold, fat, mid-range tone. The most upbeat number is “Raise the Barn,” a duet with Ronnie Dunn inspired by the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. It’s proof that despite his troubles Urban knows how to find sunny spots in life’s storm.
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