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Album boosts Urban's legend

Published November 14, 2006



Keith Urban's new album may not be completely autobiographical, but it's tough not to imagine that it pulls back the curtains on his soap opera life.

When he sings "I won't let you down," you can hear him making that pledge to Nicole Kidman before their June wedding - and then remember his sorrowful apology when he went into rehab last month.

Wealth, talent, success, fame, good looks and marriage to a beautiful movie star apparently weren't enough to keep him sober.

But the Aussie singer's vulnerability - along with his soulful blue eyes - always have been part of his appeal to fans, especially women, and they are going to love this album. It is at least the equal of his multiplatinum Be Here, and I think it's better. The first single, Once in Lifetime, is just a taste of what's to come.

My two favorites are Shine, with its big string orchestra, and the gorgeous texture of Billy Nicholls' I Can't Stop Loving You. The latter starts with a simple, mournful "So you're leavin' in the mornin' on the early train" and builds to a powerful "can't stop lovin' you" that you can't get out of your head.

For those who like a little more country with their rock, there's the foot-stomping Raise the Barn, inspired by the task of rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn joins in the fun with his distinctive tenor, making you wonder how Urban & Dunn would have been as a duo.

Other fun cuts on the album include Faster Car and the slightly crazy Tu Compania, featuring a breathy Vanessa Millon chattering in the background in mostly unintelligible Spanish.

Urban's guitar skills are on display in extended solos on many of the cuts. But on the final song, Got it Right This Time, it's just Keith with his keyboard and a drum machine, no doubt just the way he sang it for Nicole at home. He told CMT she's got a good sense of music.

Helen Huntley, Times staff writer

Sugarland gets ready to ride

The sophomore album from Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush doesn't live up to Twice the Speed of Life, but offers some rollicking good fun nonetheless.

Nettles' twangy soprano voice is on full display, in anthems such as Settlin' and County Line, although she doesn't make a very convincing "other woman" in Stay. Be sure to check out Mean Girls, featuring Brad Paisley's mean guitar, and Sugarland, the only song former band member Kristen Hall had a hand in writing.

Helen Huntley, Times staff writer


Mark Knopfler, Real Live Roadrunning

Neil Young, Live at the Fillmore East

Yusuf Islam, An Other Cup

Joan Osborne, Pretty Little Stranger

Tenacious D, The Pick of Destiny

Nickel Creek, Reasons Why: The Very Best

Nanci Griffith, Ruby's Torch

Review: Keith Urban

Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing

(EMI) Grade: A

Review: Sugarland

Enjoy the Ride

(Mercury) Grade: B


[Last modified November 14, 2006, 06:40:50]

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