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Keith Urban

Ripcord – 2016 (Capitol Nashville)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Keith Urban

Even though Keith Urban's single, "Wasted Time," borrows more than a little sonic sensibility from electronic music, there's still an upfront banjo solo. And this is how it's always been with Urban. He may play the part of the guitar hero at times, and even revealed his eclectic musical knowledge as a judge on American Idol, but Urban will always be a country boy at heart. And boyish good looks and talent have taken this country boy far, too.

The wonderfully titled "John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16," is another example of a song that pushes all the right buttons - lyrically, at least - but also includes a funky, elastic and most un-country bass part. Urban consistently mixes and matches aural elements, yet somehow (almost) always gets away with it. An 'almost' needs to be inserted because the inclusion of the always-annoying Pitbull on a country album - or any album, for that matter - is simply unforgivable. When Bull un-melodically chimes in during "Sun Don't Let Me Down," it's as though a downpour has suddenly rained on this summer parade. Carrie Underwood is another special guest, but is wasted on the dance-y throwaway, "The Fighter."

While Urban is unafraid mix it up, he also knows how to create a lovely ballad. "Blue Ain't Your Color" somehow finds a way to use that saddest of all colors in a unique way.

"Boy Gets a Truck" tells the stereotypical country boy tale about how that first purchased truck leads directly to finding true love. It's not just a fairy tale, lyrically, but a track built around a moody tune that sounds straight out of "Joshua Tree" era U2. They say charm can sometimes get you anywhere, and once again, Urban slides his way into our hearts with his charm - even though the song is built around lyrical clichés as large as Stonehenge and a musical arrangement that would give The Edge deja vu. Nevertheless, Urban just lets it rip, and we gladly let it slide.