Keith Urban

Ripcord

(Capitol)

Master of the live performance, Urban seems to release records to no conventional, regular pattern. So when one appears it is generally worth getting hold of a copy to see what Urban is up to. One can imagine that being the spouse of film star Nicole Kidman has its own logistical difficulties, what with offspring and all. But one can write a song anytime, anyplace….and I bet Urban does.

Gone Tomorrow leaps out at the listener with hokey banjo and a tempo hinting at Rammstein. It somehow doesn’t sound cohesive. An urgently delivered vocal and then what is maybe a synth starts belching. A strings pad on the keys starts a four-chord progression. It is certainly a different sound. This site loves experiment but I was glad when the track finished…

John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16 finds Urban sailing into ‘happy memory’ territory and reeking of Train. He is also singing in the same Monahan range. These listings songs can work but better in the hands Of Billy Joel. At @ 2.00 a few guitar sneers can be heard. A key change can’t save this song. It just sounds like a shot at a radio hit. Wasted Time has chattering synth and a plaintive vocal but it doesn’t convince..oh that banjo is back ! This is sounding like the sort of collection the Country diehards detest. The chorus is damn catchy and this might be a concert winner for his female followers to chat along to. The synth annoys the hell out of this listener.

Habit Of You has setting of gentle guitar and a soft electro patter. This song is the best so far, melodic and well-sung though I am sure his previous records had a thicker vocal timbre. Sun Don’t Let Me Down has contributions from Chic mastermind Nile Rodgers and Pitbull the party-time rapper and singer …hmm, can any good come of this ?? A rocky funk beat pushes this along but that farmyard banjo is seeping through again…as a clipped singlong number it hits its stride but hillbilly and funk never mixed, not on anybody’s records. At 2:00 Pitbull starts his party-rapping thing. It sounds out of place, his style belongs on a yacht deck surrounded by poster girls…

The synth chatter is back for Getting’ In The Way, a superior lyric on this set. The song again sounds like a Train-Maroon 5 amalgam. Blue Ain’t Your Colour is a pretty Bryan Adams kind of song title isn’t it? But it’s winsome bar lament with a trite tempo that doesn’t swing. By the way, the splendid Urban guitar prowess is so far hardly present. Not to say I want a repeat of past triumphs, but just as some George Benson records neglect his skills some axe effort would maybe help bring some character, here. A half-hearted guitar break creeps in here. The Fighter has a team-up with Carrie Underwood and having seen both live separately I can see that the potential is there. Though it sounds too electro, at last a song with some impact!

Carrie sings up a storm and Keith steps it up a tad. Well, quite a lot. That auto beat is terrible, no rise and fall that a human drummer like Steve Ferrone could bring to this number. Break On Me is back on the easy street pace with bass taking the initial melody. Maybe the best vocal is heard here, the timbre less tinny and a very nice tune. Surely a performance pick, Urban sells this stuff pretty well. Boy Gets A Truck is a soft gallop and aims at that nostalgia thang that Eric Church mines. The backing seems bloodless and the song doesn’t really go anywhere, the sound thickens but that’s it.

Your Body is soft bluegrassy material but with synth bass and an autobeat, again. Sounds a bit Bryan Adams. That Could Still Be Us sounds very solemn and hoping for a new day. Kleenex time; Worry ‘Bout Nuthin’ is an electro chug with a cyclic roll that sounds pretty but is not uplifting.

Maybe with less reliance on auto beats and better production this might have made a better collection. This release won’t make any new fans, I fear and for an artist I much admire..well, I hope the next one’s better.

Pete Sargeant



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(Thanks Glenn Sargeant for sourcing this release)

Keith Urban’s new album ‘Ripcord’ is out now on Capitol.

For more information visit his official website here: http://bit.ly/2gvccHs

Keith Urban