Keith Urban

Keith Urban

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Review

Keith Urban's solo debut for American audiences (released after the breakup of his former group, the Ranch) may seem a bit quaint now that he's become a superstar. But back in 1997 when this album was released, Urban looked like a fresh-faced kid who was entering the U.S. market as a virtual unknown. Truth is, he made his recording debut in his native Australia in 1991, and had been on the radar of Nashville's AR men for years. This album proves why. There are four Urban originals here, each one showcasing his knack for writing in numerous styles that all fit into the expanding country radio format. He could marry a ock tune or pop ballad to a country melody, set it off with just the right amount of heartfelt emotion, and lace it with appropriate production, whether it be playing the banjo or adding strings to the mix. He and co-producer Matt Rollings also selected a mostly winning combination of tunes to fill the remainder of the disc, including Monty Powell's fiddle drenched barnstormer "It's a Love Thing," Charlotte Caffey's mid-tempo ballad "But for the Grace of God," and "Rollercoaster," which marked Urban's first signal towards the contemporary country community that he wasn't just a pretty face who could sing. The track is a guitar scorcher from top to bottom, with Urban playing guitar like he was Randy Scruggs' younger brother, flat picking his Stratocaster like it was another extremity he was born with. This and other such moments balance the slick and sometimes too-soft production on the record; as such, the album marks the true root of his sound as a major artist wetting his feet. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi