Thursday, 30 January 2014

Album Review: FUSE

I'd say it was about time. Keith Urban hadn't released an original album since 2010 before Fuse came out last September. And the American Idol judge's music seems to be regaining momentum. Little Bit of Everything only peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, but his follow-up We Were Us (with Miranda Lambert) was a surefire number one.

And with the new video for Cop Car out this week, Urban has the country music media buzzing again. Fuse makes a departure from his famous country-rock for dance-flavoured tunes.

Somewhere In My Car is a perfect example. The production value is stellar, featuring intricate guitar and synth fills. Urban uses detailed imagery to compare an intense love  ("Breathin' hard/Steamin' up the glass") with the reality that he can never bring it back ("Promises we made won't fill this empty space.")

You know a song is really good when people are talking about it before it goes to radio. Cop Car is one of those tunes that is so fresh it could become a future classic. The premise is a date sneaking onto airport grounds to watch planes take off...and then the cops roll in. "There was something 'bout the way the blue lights were shining/Bringing out the freedom in your eyes." And then the clincher: "I fell in love in the back of a cop car." What a story – I've never heard anything like it before. Kudos to Urban for taking that risk.

I must say, though: He sure sings a lot about cars. We Were Us talks about a "backseat promise," and Red Camaro is pretty self-explanatory. The latter feels a little dubstep-ish, but is not very memorable. "Some things never go out of style/Like you and me together/Staring at your legs on the leather of my red Camaro."

Thankfully, Urban doesn't totally skip out on the country-rock. Love's Poster Child is overflowing with twang and banjo-picking. "Show me how it's done this side of Dixie/I'm a broke-down truck, baby won't you fix me." This tune definitely has potential, and I hope Urban doesn't give up his old style.

She's My 11 is an awkward fit for a country album. The title never appears directly in the song, and that's hard to get away with. The unusual chords during interludes are also a little too folksy for my liking. Despite some clichéd lyrics, the song does show off Urban's impressive head voice.

Raise 'Em Up features Eric Church, but musically, feels slightly like an Ed Sheeran song. It basically covers all of life in three minutes – Saturday-night concerts, trucks, coming home, fighting for freedom, funerals, marriage, and raising kids. Did I miss anything? Church's verse is especially powerful: "You got a voice/You got a choice/Go make some noise/Don't ever let 'em tell you who you are."

So while Fuse might not have been what you were expecting from Urban, it's refreshing. I think the album is a solid career-revamper with a soothing pop vibe.

Country Luke's Rating: 7.5/10

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