Release Date: Sep 10, 2013
Record label: Capitol
Genre(s): Contemporary Country, Country-Pop
The Fuse, Keith Urban's first album in three years, delivers a slicker, more sophisticated version of his solitary demo recording process as a radical sounding change in direction. Throughout, he melds drum machines, synths and samplers with his guitars, banjos, mandolins and voice. Urban's experience as a judge on American Idol also contributes to his song and production choices--he's heard enough commercial pop to know what works.
"Wish I could take a cab down to the creek/And hang a disco ball from an old oak tree," sings Keith Urban on "Little Bit of Everything," the tweakin'-on-the-tailgate single from his latest album, which tricks out his buff country pop with synth bass, digital stutters and big-box beats. It's hardly news: Urban has been working crossovers since his 1999 solo debut, and even held his own between co-judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey on last year's American Idol. What is surprising, though, is how unforced and fun the record sounds.
In the wake of crossover pop/country success for younger acts like Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum, it isn’t a surprise that Keith Urban would try a little harder to push in a similar direction, by working with pop producers to light a new fuse in his music. It’s not surprising, but it does seem misguided, or at least unnecessary. Or perhaps a non-story, not the dramatic shift that the press about the album, Fuse, has described and that Urban seems to think the album is.
No rapper knows the value of a guest verse the way 2 Chainz does: appearing on other artists’ songs, and dominating, has been crucial to his ascent over the last couple of years. “Might not be your favorite artist/But your favorite artist got a verse from me,” he raps proudly on Fabolous’s current hit “When I Feel Like It.” He managed that climb thanks to a gift for improbable boasts — even he sounded surprised — that had more impact coming from an outsider than from a star, and their punch carried through to his 2012 debut album, “Based on a T.R.U. Story.” But now he’s on top, more or less, and the exulting has a different tone on the mixed “B.O.A.T.S.