Album Blends Genres
Published: Friday, September 13, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 13, 2013 07:09
Keith Urban is easily one of the most recognized country singers on the charts. His unusual background for a country star (born in New Zealand and raised in Australia) means that he has always mixed genres to create his own distinct sound. His guitar-driven songs, although country at heart, have contained hints of rock, pop and alternative. With Fuse, Keith Urban has ambitiously pushed himself to seamlessly fuse his brand of country with even more genres to create an album that impresses and propels country music to new territories.
Urban worked with many different producers on this album, ranging from collaborators who normally work with Rihanna to those who work with Fall Out Boy. This revelation might scare die-hard country fans, but every song is unmistakably country. Songs like “Cop Car,” whose lyrics are about a couple falling in love in the back of a cop car, cannot come from anywhere but a country song. Plus, all of the classic country instruments are still present. The elements of other genres come in the layers of each song.
Urban’s best examples of effectively blending different genres come from the album’s first two singles. His wildly popular “Little Bit of Everything” gives off your typical driving-down-a-dirt-road-in-a-pickup-truck vibes. However, instead of the usual guitar riff, Urban uses a ukelele. It’s an unexpected twist that, although subtle, gives the song a pop feel. His second single, “Even the Stars Fall 4 U,” is backed heavily by a choir and has a strong drum beat that are common in alternative/pop crossover hits.
The two duets on Fuse are also particularly successful. The collaboration with Miranda Lambert, “We Were Us,” will inevitably be a great country party song. The guitar heavy song about young love makes it the perfect sing-along. “Raise ’Em Up” is perhaps the most traditional country song on the album. Although aided by some subtle effects and synths, the lyrics include allusions to all country’s usual favorites, like the American flag, the troops and independence. Plus, Eric Church’s timeless voice is undeniably country.
The album, though, is not without one or two missteps. The worst of these is “Good Thing.” There’s just a little too much going on: guitar riffs combined with a boring synth beat. It gives off the impression of trying too hard to cater to what is expected of popular music. While the other songs bend genre barriers without being too obvious, this one loses the effortless country sound.
Some country music stars have tried and failed to mix genres to become more mainstream. Keith Urban, however, has found a way to unify other genres into traditional country songs to create something fresh and surprising that’s certainly worth a listen.