Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Skeptic's Review of Keith Urban's 'Get Closer"

Keith Urban is a lot of things; musician, performer, media star, celebrity husband, father, son, brother and addict. All of those are important elements in what makes this record work, but it also becomes glaringly obvious that Urban is walking a fine line between perception and reality.

Get Closer is a well crafted record. The musicianship, the production, and the quality of the cover material is all top notch. The reintroduction of typical country instruments such as banjos and mandolins make this record a stronger musical ride than 'Defying Gravity', and not as experimental as 'Love, Pain and the Whole Crazy Thing'. Urban went back to the catalog and looked at what worked. One of the things he missed in that search are the strong lyrics that made both 'Golden Road' and 'Be Here' the diamonds they are. To say that the lyrics on 'Get Closer' are juvenile would be giving them credit where it doesn't belong; that would be a step up; childish is more like it. If only the lyrics complimented the music...

'Put You in A Song' is silly. A 43-year old man with as much experience in life as Urban has had should not be overwhelmed by first love. He is too far removed from being a teen to actually capture that time. Sarah Buxton, who crafted the gorgeous 'Stupid Boy', is a better songwriter than this. Leave the puppy love to Taylor and Justin; they have the audience for that. The rest of the record suffers because of the lyrics, which is sad because songs like Georgia Woods will be great in concert, but won't work for sing-alongs.

'Without You', which was written by someone else but reinterpreted by Urban as a commentary on his current marriage, becomes a hideous show of dependence. Listening to this song makes one wonder if Urban has transferred his chemical dependencies onto his spouse; it is grating. The words to many of the songs indicate that there is in Urban's world the ability to flip the coin from devotion to obsession and dependence. That is depressing because this could have been a good record. 'Shut Out the Lights' has great vocals and could be a big single. Written during the golden era of 2004-2005, it is a lovely song that is mature and thoughtful. The 'Luxury of Knowing' will become an Urban classic. His vocal on this is outstanding and it is about adult topics. Listening to the last two songs makes the rest of the record pale in comparison. Listening to 'Get Closer' makes one wonder what happened to Keith Urban, and what might the future bring?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Roger Friedman strikes again...

Praising the CD to high heaven and quoting the only part of the liner notes that reference Baby Girl:

“Nicole Mary–i continue to be brought to my knees by this love of ours…I am in awe of how this blessed family we are creating stretches and fearlessly opens my vulnerable heart…and I just want to be a better man, for you, and father for our heavenly Sunday Rose, and have you go to sleep every night knowing that no one has ever, or will ever, love you as much I do…and all we need is faith…”

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another Letter for Keith Urban in the Mailbag

Dear Keith,

I was a fan when you produced GREAT music. You know you did, right? Before that Betty Ford commitment. Your music used to touch my soul. Your music was inspirational, thought provoking, and meaningful. Now all I hear is Nyah Nyah Nyah, I married Nicole Kidman and that is all. Even when you have a moment of news-worthy events, such as the train station event yesterday, what’s the next thing we see? Voila! Keith and HIS WIFE are leaving their apartment... and the wife’s new movie is mentioned. Not the release of Keith’s CD. Of course, you are on your way to Chicago to record an Oprah show. And of course YOUR WIFE will be tagging along. You certainly could not be on Oprah to promote your CD, it will be to promote your wife’s new movie. Is that why the CD was “rushed out”.... even though it wasn’t “ready”? What a shill you have become. Why did I become a fan of yours in the first place? Oh, yeah.... You used to put out good music. Not so much anymore.

A Former Fan

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Why I am not buying your record, Mr. Keith Urban

It's been a while, but UM received some mail today that is very important to share...

Dear Keith,

I want to start by saying that I am a fan. I own everything you have recorded. From the 1991 record to the Ranch to all the solo studio releases. I even have two copies of Be Here; one with the black and white cover; and one with the color cover. I have spent a lot of money on your music over the years, so it is with a heavy heart that I just can't bring myself to buy Get Closer. There is a phrase in television called ‘jumping the shark’. That is when a show is older and the creativity has run out, and the shows start getting far fetched. This happened with Happy Days the season that Fonzie literally jumped a shark. I bring this up because I believe you have jumped the shark with this new record. Who is this record for, Keith? Your wife or your fans? I ask that because when you remove the fantasy of the subject of the song, the song becomes quite boring. By telling the world all the songs are about your wife you have removed the listener from the song. That is a tragedy because it means the song has no other meaning beyond your definition. The appeal of art and music in particular, is that it must move the listener to relate to something in that song. The listener must find their own meaning. By telling everyone what each song means they are losing their own personal connection. Frankly, I am not interested in your personal life. I am interested in your art, but I don't want it defined for me.

Another reason I won't be buying this record is the cover. You lied to your fans by the selection of this cover. There is no glossing over that fact. You committed fraud. Harsh, yes, I know I am being quite harsh. But the fact remains that people who work for you, with your approval, used your Facebook page to conduct a survey with the promise that the results would be used in a certain manner. Then after the cover was selected a different cover was used. That is fraud. If you are going to mislead your fans this much then you need to know that so many of us are feeling a bit deceived. Lying and cheating may be a part of your world but they aren't a part of mine and the only way that I can take a stand is to not encourage the behavior to continue. If that means one less record sold, well maybe that doesn't amount to much, but I don't think I am alone. We will all see what the sales charts say. Until then I will sit this record out and hope you can return to being someone I can respect if you are lucky enough to get a chance to record again.

Your Fan