I have listened to country artist Keith Urban since I have been listening to music. I began listening to him when he released his third solo album, Be Here, in 2004. Some of his most popular songs such as “Days Go By” and “Better Life” helped it to become his most-sold album.
One reason Be Here is so great is his vocal range and guitar solos. The album displays his range as a vocalist as in “Days Go By,” he signs earnestly while pleading to live life to the fullest while in “Tonight I Wanna Cry,” his tone is much more somber, filled with sadness.
Since Be Here, he has released five albums prior to his latest release. Love Pain & The Whole Crazy Thing was good with great tracks such as “I Told You So” and “I Won’t Let You Down,” but the quality of the album dropped toward the end with songs such as “Got it Right This Time,” which are either bland or don’t work with his style.
His next two albums, Defying Gravity and Get Closer are fantastic with some of his best tracks such as “If Ever I Could Love” and “Long Hot Summer.” However, his best album is Fuse, an album which fuses many different genres of music into his country style. Every track is great such as “Little Bit of Everything” and his duet with Miranda Lambert in “We Were Us.”
His last two releases prior to The Speed of Now Part 1 were Ripcord and Graffiti U, his two worst albums since his self-titled album in 1999. He began to stray away from his guitar-focused music to more atmospheric music, which produced mixed results. Fun songs such as “Wasted Time” and “Never Comin Down” provide good music from these albums but overall, many songs don’t have the same pop as his previous albums did.
Going into The Speed of Now Part 1, I was hoping for a return to what made him a standout artist and luckily, he mostly does. This album is a fusion of pop and country music into one. The songs in general are fast-paced and are a blast to listen to on first listen.
Three tracks stand out in this album: “One Too Many” (feat. P!nk), “Live With” and “Forever.”
“One Too Many” is another Keith Urban duet with a female vocalist (similar to “We Were Us”). What makes this one stand out is the harmony of the vocals from Urban and P!nk. Her powerful vocals add to the raw emotions I feel listening to the song. It is a powerful song, emphasized by incredible vocals, a return to form for Urban.
“Live With” display the powerful vocal range Urban displays. The chorus flows incredibly well, allowing Urban to use the full range of his voice with an earnest tone. It is a call-back to what makes him such an incredible artist for me and listening to this song left me filled with nostalgia.
However, “Forever” is the ultimate throwback song. He sings in his excited country-voice, making this a track which could fit in Golden Road, his album prior to Be Here. This track is a fun country anthem mixed with his strong vocals and rock elements, making it one of the best songs on the album. His guitar solo at the end is also breathtaking.
This album is an improvement over his previous two, as his mixed instruments works better fast-paced than a slower and more atmospheric tone. What made the somber track, “Tonight I Wanna Cry” so good was the strong emphasis on the piano, something not presented in Ripcord and Graffiti U.
Without an emphasis on a certain instrument like in previous albums, it is difficult for songs to stand out as much. As a result, the second half of the album suffers. The vocals lose some of the passion that they had in the first half of the album and some of the songs sound like some of the worst tracks from the previous two albums, albeit better versions.
While the album struggles to stick the landing, the first half makes the whole listening experience of the album worth it. There are glimpses of his return to form, an encouraging sign after the disappointing Graffiti U album. Overall, I enjoyed listening to the album and I recommend it for all Keith Urban and country music fans.