Keith Urban: 18 kids and not a single one misbehaves!

Nov 23, 2007

The Bottom Line Keith Urban is definitely one of the best country performers around with his sensitive lyrics, expressive vocals and admirable musicianship!

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Keith Urban has been one of the most definitive and talented performers in male country since his debut album in 1999. His prowess on the guitar, his lively and sensitive vocals, his stellar songwriting and his every man sexiness have made him, at least in my mind, the artist to beat. Greatest Hits: 18 Kids is a testament to this with all his best songs lined up for all to see. Comprehensive and thorough I can’t really think of any song that is left out and there isn’t a weak cut in the bunch. He also gives us two new tracks “Romeo’s Tune” and “Got It Right This Time (The Celebration)” which although it was on his last album Love Pain and The Whole Crazy Thing it has been rerecorded with a live band which adds a lot.

From his debut album we have included “But For The Grace of God”, “Your Everything” and “Where The Blacktop Ends”. The later is a gritty, guitar riff driven slice of freedom and was my first exposure to Urban. This song has a lot of energy and a sense of adventure. “But For The Grace of God” is the only song on the album that I am not completely familiar with besides the new material because I actually haven’t picked up his debut. It is my least favorite of the tracks on the album but it’s not a bad song by any means. “Your Everything” is a nice ballad and sounds good even if it does pale in comparison to ballads he would right later in his career.

His next album Golden Road is when I personally discovered him and what a discovery it was. The opening track “Somebody Like You” is a sunny, soaring track that perfectly captures the hope and freedom of new love. With it’s effervescent mandolin, more masculine guitar it’s a perfect blend of country and rock. “Who Wouldn’t Want To Be Me” has a country foundation chugging underneath so mean rock guitar and a hybrid tenor vocals. The song is a carefree one and is a nice inclusion here. The ballads are no less inviting whether it be the vulnerable heartache as a sleepless Urban sadly states “Take your cat and leave my sweater, we have nothing left to weather….” in “You’ll Think Of Me” (she’d be a fool if she didn’t!) or the sexy simmer and relaxed romantic vibe of “Raining On Sunday” as he croons “Surrender is much sweeter when we both let it go, let the water wash our bodies clean and love wash our soul”. All four of the tracks chosen from this album deserve their place on this album.

Be Here definitely was a worthy follow-up to Golden Road proving he wouldn’t be forced to abandon the yellow brick road anytime soon. “Days Go By” continues the tradition of opening the album with a lighthearted, feel good song with excellent music and meaningful lyrics. This one is more about life than love and how fast it can all go by when you’re not looking. “You’re My Better Half” is a tender, romantic country song that any woman would kills to have dedicated to her as Urban smoothly caresses the listener with his expressive tenor voice “And you look at me and give me that come here baby smile, it’s all gonna be alright”. “Better Life” is a guitar extravaganza with some almost washboard like percussion, some mean banjo and a bunch of promises a girl could look forward too. Keith Urban gives us two more excellent ballads on this album as well. “Making Memories of Us” is sweet, passionate song about spending the rest of your lives together. The guitar is a bit dreamy and his voice is masculine yet soft as he emphatically sings “I want to honor your mother and I want to learn from your pa, I want to steal your attention like a bad outlaw.” It may sounds a little bit Laura Ingalls on paper but it sounds like pure heaven coming from Urban. “Tonight I Want To Cry” features a sad, gorgeous piano, melancholy strings and Urban’s voice is spotlight and handles it beautifully. It feels very intimate and you feel like your witnessing him in his house with a shot of whisky on the top of the piano lost in his own emotion.

Of course, the hits didn’t end with that album. In 2006 he released yet another well crafted, amazing album and again had several hits. “Once In A Lifetime Love” was his first single and all about finding the perfect love. For him, that perfect love was Tom Cruise’s loss Nicole Kidman. The song builds and then lets loose on a passionate chorus and even though the song isn’t really all that different than some of other songs the formula still works and he makes it sound new again. “I Told You So” is a bit more brooding and a different from some other songs he’s done with a bit of an Irish flair. A mandolin picks along underneath some electric guitar and the song then has a slightly Celtic solo. The whole song instrumentally is impressive in and of itself but when you layer Urban’s vocals on top it all comes together perfectly. “Stupid Girl” was originally recorded by Sarah Buxton and the switch of genders and perspective gives the song a different meaning. “Everybody” is a laidback ballad with some guitar slapping and a highly relatable lyric. The songs strength is definitely in how Urban delivers the melody as he plaintively states “Everybody needs somebody sometimes…..” The other track from this album “Got It Right This Time (The Celebration) is a warm blend of blues, country, gospel and pop and the song is vibrant and affectionate.

The album also has a new song “Romeo’s Tune”, a cover of Steve Forbert’s 1979 hit of the same name. Opening the album it fits in nicely with all the other kids with it’s scratchy guitar, romping piano, rolling organs. The song is a brilliant entry into his catalog and it has a breezy spring sound with some nice harmonies in the background. I remember hearing this song and the familiar piano lick but Urban definitely makes it his own with some great electric guitar work about halfway through.

This is a greatest hits album that you can buy and be confident you are getting a worthy representation of Urban as an artist. He has album tracks on all his albums that are worthwhile besides the hits but this definitely sums his career up thus far nicely. His musicianship shines on every track and by the time you finish the album, you should have no doubts why he is such a defining artist in modern country.

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