Graffiti U - Keith Urban

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Graffiti U is the new album by Keith Urban. It dropped Friday April 27, 2018 and is his 9th studio album.

While I don’t consider myself a certified “country music fan”, there are many artists in the genre I do enjoy. However, in my opinion, Keith Urban is in a league all by himself. Aside from his soulful baby blue eyes, flowing blonde hair, ripped arms, and contagious smile, he is, in my opinion, one of the most outrageously talented guitar players of our time.

Eric Clapton, who to many is considered THE guitar god, has made glowing remarks about Urban’s expertise. When he invited him, and a few other first timers to his annual festival in 2013 he said, “The Crossroads Festival is the realization of a dream for me, to gather a group of amazingly talented musicians to perform on one stage. The Crossroads performers are all musicians I admire and respect.”

Granted, I’m not very objective. Much like my long-term admiration for John Mellencamp, (who coincidentally Urban has stated was one of his inspirations as a young artist), I have been a fan of Mr. Urban’s since his first solo self-titled release in 1999. With each new record that followed, he continued to explore unique styles of music, that went beyond something that could be categorized exclusively as country.

Born in Whangaeri, New Zealand on October 26.1967, and moving to Caboolture, Queensland, Australia, at the age of 2, it is safe to call Urban an Aussie. Yet his father, had a vast collection of American country records marked, made in Nashville, on the back. He has said as a child he thought that meant he had to go to Nashville to make records. And he did in 1992….with a vengeance!

His road to stardom was far from smooth, and he had to fight for every single bit of fame he has today. But it is SO well deserved! I could continue, but then this blog would go on for days.

Graffiti U is obviously a must have for any Keith Urban fan. Like his two prior albums Ripcord, and Fuse, he has moved away from what used to be the traditional, for lack of a better word, twangy country sound.

There is something for everyone on this album. He dips his toes in reggae for the first time with a song called “My Wave”. The sensitive “Parallel Line” was penned by Ed Sheeran, who is an expert at pop love songs. “Gemini” is an upbeat love letter to his wife, Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman. Indeed, many of the songs on this record seem to be inspired by Ms. Kidman, Urban’s wife of 12 years. Talk about your power couple, at the top of their games.

For those die-hard country fans, there is a fantastic song on the album called “Texas Time”. Not only does it include a superb guitar solo that Urban has become celebrated for, but fun fact; if you are old enough to remember Peter Frampton and one of the biggest selling albums of the 1970’s, Frampton Comes Alive, you will be very familiar with the infamous “talk box” that he used on many of his songs, including “Do You Feel Like We Do”. Urban uses Mr. Frampton’s very same talk box on Graffiti U’s “Texas Time”.

I love the whole album, but one of my personal favorites is called “Drop Top”. With its driving beat, and again, another awesome guitar solo, it tells the story of a girl going to the Coachella music festival, putting her past behind, and searching fiercely for freedom. It’s one of those summer songs that will make you want to get in the car, roll down the windows, and drive faster than you should. Not that I am endorsing that, but I think everyone has their list of “those” kinds of songs.

Many of these songs will make for perfect concert renditions. Keith will be touring starting in May and will be stopping in Tinley Park at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater on August 18, 2018. If you want to see an outstanding show, I highly recommend you catch him in concert.

I have seen him many times, including before he was the acclaimed star he is today.  The venue sizes may have changed, but he remains one of the most generous performers I have ever seen. He gives 200% every show. Now that he plays to enormous crowds, he always has a smaller stage placed somewhere in the nosebleed section. He leisurely walks to it, surrounded by security, though taking time to high-five fans, give an occasional autograph, while most of the women reach for that elusive touch of his hair or t-shirt.  This is halfway during his almost three-hour set, so that the whole stadium can have “good seats”, if only for a brief time. He engages with the audience throughout the whole show, unlike some performers who just come out, sing and never once address the audience. He makes it almost a personal, but unified experience.

If you are hesitant to give Keith Urban a try because of the country label, I will leave you with this. The best description I ever heard about Keith Urban is, he is a rocker disguised in country clothing. I also know from personal experience, that people who really dislike country music, saw Keith Urban in concert, and are now lifelong fans. I hope you become one of those people.

 

Enjoy this cut from Graffiti U!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFM2ysnG01U

 

https://www.amazon.com/Graffiti-U-Keith-Urban/dp/B07BSLN75J

(link to purchase on Amazon)

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