Getting Closer to Retirement (Unfortunately)
Keith Urban is living a life that most musicians or straight men would kill for. He has put out seven #1 hits in the last four years, his most recent in February, he was just inducted into the Grand Ole Opry this week (a bit late, might I add), he’s married to one of the most beautiful women in the world, Nicole Kidman, and he has two precious baby daughters. So one wonders if Keith is looking towards retirement anytime soon, he is 44. After listening to the Aussie’s latest album, Get Closer, I think he should at least consider a hiatus. The album isn’t bad per se, it has produced three #1’s (only two of which deserved it in my opinion), but it definitely isn’t up to standard Keith.
His record company made some smart decisions in the singles they released from the album, with the exception of “You Gonna Fly” (the song I was talking about not deserving #1 status). The song is very chorus-driven and I somewhat understand what the song is trying to do, encourage a shy person to spread their wings, but it is not executed well. His best single, “Without You,” also a #1, is an emotional ballad about the devotion he has to Nicole and his daughters. It is a theme that has been done before, and it wasn’t done in a new way, but it is so simple and cuts straight to the heart, you can’t help but love it. This is the first of many times I will say that Keith Urban has such an emotive voice, one of the best in country or any genre, that you feel easily connected to his music despite never going through that particular situation.
Of the seven other new songs not released to radio from this album, “Right On Back To You” and “Luxury Of Knowing” could have easily been sent out and would have gone straight to the top of the charts without question. Though “Luxury Of Knowing” is a bit wordy, the sentiment that his woman knows him so well, but he can’t seem to figure her out, is poetic and gorgeous. Just when you think it’s going to be a song about whether he’s not sure if he can stay in the relationship, he begs her to not give up on him. A curveball out of left field in the best possible way. Typically, the best songs are kept away from radio so people will buy the album, but this is a song everyone needs to hear. “Right On Back To You” begins with the sound of a storm, making us think of one of his bigger hits, “Raining On Sunday.” While slightly cliche, a man begging for another chance, the melody and emotion behind the song make it all worth it, especially in the bridge.
The rest of the songs however, are not as good as these. Carrie Underwood said it best on this week’s Top 20 Country Countdown on Great American Country, some songs are just “static” and when you’re supposed to feel something, you just don’t. That’s the way “Shut Out The Lights” and “Big Promises” felt to me. “Shut Out The Lights” is another song about a divorce/relationship ending and how they might think of a solution to stay together if they sleep. THAT’S NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN! A song where you’re supposed to feel some empathy for the strained couple and I’m empty inside. I don’t think that’s my fault. “Big Promises” is another one of those vague songs that I LOVE so much (sense the sarcasm). There’s nothing specific about why he loves her, or what she does to him, but something makes him want to make big promises. How very non-commital of you Keith. After “Without You” and a boatload of other beautiful songs, I didn’t expect this level of mediocrity from you.
The other songs on here really aren’t worth mentionong. So five out of eleven original songs and four live versions of old songs that are good. And this is a man who was just now inducted to the Grand Ole Opry? I am utterly disappointed. Rascal Flatts recently said they considered retirement because they couldn’t find any fresh music and it was becoming stale. That is until they found their fantastic current single “Banjo.” Keith Urban needs a major “Banjo”-esque hit on his next album or he might as well call it quits.