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Keith Urban

Fuse – 2013 (Capitol Nashville)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Keith Urban

Keith Urban will keep his superstar status intact with the lengthy "Fuse." The upbeat, commercial- and fan-friendly music and singing from Urban will ensure that. This is pretty much vintage Urban.

That means Urban's not very high on the country quotient. What sounds like a guitar on the rocking Good Thing and the somewhat swampy Red Camaro, for example, is Mike Elizondo's programming. Yes, there's gango (six-stringed banjo with guitar neck) sprinkled in many songs, but for the most part, this is tried-and-true Urban with driving rockers from the start of Somewhere in My Car with its anthem-like quality with the crowd ready to kick in on the "ooh oh oh" part to the end of the deluxe version, 16-song set with Lucky Charm. A large chunk of the songs seem very radio ready (the fast-paced Even the Stars Fall 4 U with another sing-a-long chorus of "Oh oh" and a nice sonic ending where it stars like falling stars). They have a bounce to them; the vocals sound quite good; and it's what passes for country these days.

Urban may have used eight co-producers (Nathan Chapman of Taylor Swift fame, Dann Huff and Butch Walker are the main co-producers), but they all seemed to agree, fortunately, that you'd better keep Urban's vocals up way high. With a warm, expressive, pleasant sounding voice like his, why do anything different? And the guitar playing - Urban is one of the best out there - is kept way upfront as well amidst a typically very fast paced sprint throughout.

Considering the number of songs, very few fall flat; the slower Cop Car, where the couple are busted, land in the back of a cruiser and supposedly fall in love, is most guilty. The lyrics are silly enough to kill the song. At least Urban didn't write it, although he did pen 7 of the disc's songs. The subject matter doesn't vary a whole lot - almost everything focuses on relationships (in She's My 11, Urban sings "I'm a lucky man, yes I am/Living in Heaven down here on earth"). And at 16 songs, Urban may have been a bit too generous.

But Urban knows what has and does work for him. His musical fuse continues providing the spark.