Keith Urban,"Love, Pain&the Whole Crazy Thing"(Capitol): So far, Keith Urban shows no signs of running out of exhilarating ways to declare life is grand, or finding dizzingly uplifting guitar riffs that echo that sentiment.
On the Australian star's fourth solo album,"Love, Pain&the Whole Crazy Thing,"the emphasis is definitely on love, and on shifting his music slightly away from organic roots-rock toward thunderous arena rock.
The lyrical focus on a special bond that lasts is understandable, considering that the singer-songwriter married actress Nicole Kidman in June. There's only a couple of nods to Urban's nearly as well-known struggles with addiction."Stupid Boy"is a funky, witty take on a guy who can't appreciate how good he has it, while another highpoint,"Used to the Pain,"portrays a man trying to overcome his habit of sabotaging positive developments in his life _ appropriate, given his recent decision to go into rehab.
Urban still blends the earthy sounds of banjos and mandolins into his songs, but there's more emphasis on complex rhythms, thumping bass tracks and extended guitar breaks. He also moves into new territory on a synthesizer-driven bopper,"Faster Car,"and a sunny acoustic funk tune,"Tu Compania."And he stretches his talent at intimate ballads, this time with the Beatlesque"I Can't Stop Loving You."
Urban occasionally overreaches, especially on the cringe-inducing"God Made Woman."But even that song, like the rest of this whole crazy collection, shows Urban taking artistic chances instead of playing it safe.
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