Keith Urban - The Speed of Now Part 1
- Quite some Keith Urban coolness and happiness
- Few nice songs, including duets with P!nk and Eric Church
- The album experiments with multiple genres
- Some of the songs are just a fail to me
- No great track on the album. Just outstanding compared to average
For many country music fans, the 18th September 2020 was some sort of day to look out for: The Speed of Now Part 1 was to be released – nobody but the New Zealand country music hero Keith Urban is presenting a brand-new 15 track album (“brand new” thereby relates to the set of songs… Quite some of them have been released beforehand…). However, some of these singles pre-released suggested that the Keith Urban 2020 sound might be slightly different than he presented himself at Ripcord, for example. Here is my view on the album.
Keith Urban – About The Artist
Keith Lionel Urban was born on 26th October 1967 in Whangarei, North of Auckland, New Zealand. He however grew up in Caboolture in Queensland, a city North of Brisbane, Australia. His first major stage appearance was in the 1983 music talent show New Faces. His first record deal, however, was in 1990, which also lead to his self-titled debut album. Keith Urban just made it into the Top 100 of the Australian charts. Urban moved to Nashville and six years after his debut, he released The Ranch, which was in fact a self-titled album again, released with a band of the same name. The album peaked 34th in the US Country Charts.
His solo American album debut was again self-titled (which also means that there are two Keith Urban albums called Keith Urban). The success was quite reasonable with a #17 peak position. The album was strong on the singles side, with his 2000 debut chart topper But for the Grace of God. In 2002, the album Golden Road was something like the final breakthrough, climbing up to the second spot in the US Country Album charts. It contained three additional number one singles, Somebody Like You, Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me and You’ll Think of Me. From then on, naming all the number one chart successes, on the singles and the album side, would just be a massive list, as almost any of his releases at least went second until then. The only exceptions were his very latest singles, which “disappointed” with chart positions like #3 or #4. Overall, Urban had 22 Country Billboard (singles) chart toppers and eight albums (out of 11), which at least made it second in the US Country Album charts.
Keith Urban – The Speed of Now Part 1 – Track by Track
The 16 song album lasts 52 minutes.
1. Out The Cage (feat. Breland & Nile Rogers)
There is a reason why Keith Urban is having certain popularity in markets (like Germany), which are not too traditional in Nashville country sounds – he is touching the genre limits towards rock and pop quite often. Out The Cage is not only pushing country to these limits, but it is by far exceeding it – a pop track, which I personally feel it is even lacking the Urban-alike internationally touching genuine spirit.
2. One Too Many (feat. P!nk)
At first sight, a collaboration with P!nk does not feel too much like a country song again, but her recent 2019 album Hurts 2B Human had some country music elements. Finally, this is a nice summer modern country vibe, well done!
3. Live With
For some friends I can sip with, take a fifth with
Find a girl I can kiss through the thin and the thick with
With the one life I get
I want a life I can live
Not just a life I can live with
Not just a life I can live with
The first track which somehow is offering traditional Keith Urban sounds. I would say it is a pretty solid track, which on the other hand has no chance to make it to the Keith Urban Song Hall of Fame.
Superman has been one of the tracks which has been released before the album. A very straight mix of Keith Urban song elements: country vibes, which are mixed with some rock and pop elements, giving a somehow nice mood and good vibes. There are songs (also on this album), who do the Keith Urban party feeling better than Superman, but it is a pretty nice one.
5. Change Your Mind
The slow Change Your Mind is a straight and nicely presented ballad, which is getting a bit more rhythmic alongside the playtime. Keith Urban just catches me in tracks like this.
Spring break tattoo, you knew better
Like the man in the moon that age old sun-setter
Makes the best shine and the world go ’round and ’round forever
So, let the good times roll and don’t never
Let your young grow old, these days around this Podunk town
You’ll think about ’em till the cows come home for now, forever
Forever is definitely a country song, but with a strong rock flavor. Especially at the beginning of the song, this track confused me. Finally, it is not too bad.
7. Say Something
Say Something is to me a very characteristic track for the whole album: the song feels like Keith Urban and there is some country music touch in it… But overall it is a pop track, even featuring some electronic elements. If you have certain traditional expectations towards Keith Urban, this song is maybe a the right point in time to burn your ticket for the next Urban tour – you definitely need to delete the cache and the cookies in your Keith Urban heart to start seeing the positive sides of that sound.
8. Soul Food
Songs about nutrition feel to be straight in my expertise. But – of course – Soul Food is a die-hard love song. And it is pure pop music. Quite catchy to me for a pop track (and also better in lyrics than most pop mass music), but still a bit too thin for the Nashville heart, maybe.
Nothin’ sparks my appetite
Like you and me on friday nights
You leave my heart so satisfied
Your love tastes sweeter, every bite
You’re so good
You’re my soul food
9. Ain’t It Like A Woman
Ain’t it like a woman
To stop a runaway train running off a track
Ain’t it like a woman
To take the reins, tame a wild horse, and pull ’em back
With her strong and her sexy
She’s ten and two when I would’ve wrecked me
Ain’t it like a woman
To come along and save a man
Another slow track, which is trying to play with atmospheres, background voices and a too-short-to-add-character electric guitar bridge. I struggle…
10. With You
I wouldn’t say that this song is spreading the traditional and well-known Keith Urban vibe over The Speed of Now Part 1, but at least it feels a bit like his previous songs. Just a bit too thin.
This musical uptempo rush may have some potential on stage, but during the album, it is a good moment to do a pee break. I cannot relate to this electro pop-rock thing (there are also acts who do this kind of sound much better).
12. God Whispered Your Name
Keith Urban to give some extra warmth in your heart: God Whispered Your Name is a lovely musical love statement. Definitely an Urban song, his musical roots are, however, rather hidden to it.
This song, which is somehow country music, made it into the rotation of some German (mainstream) radio stations. Thus, I am spreading my love over Polaroid. Definitely one of the rather catching songs of the albums on the chorus side. I feel that the verses are rather lame and as unflashy as the girl which is always in the dark, shadowy corner on the Polaroid picture. Be quick, it is also the shortest song of the album (2:31 minutes)
14. Better Than I Am
But I will open my arms and I’ll fall at your feet
And I’ll let you in to where you can so damage me
I will stand in the light, least as best I can
And I’ll live like I’m better, better than I am
Better than I am
Another ballad. The spread of topics offered by Keith Urban feels a bit limited – as this song. Even placed between the likely two most characteristic tracks of the album, it feels just like a Mission Impossible to get some love and attention from the listeners.
15. We Were
We Were is the best song of the album to me. A very catchy song, which is even better on stage.
16. We Were (feat. Eric Church)
Somehow, Keith Urban seems to like this one as well – at least he is doing the track twice and finishes the album with a collaboration with Eric Church. At least this increases the coolness factor of the album significantly.
Keith Urban – The Speed of Now Part 1 – Spotify
Here is the Spotify widget to the Keith Urban album:
Keith Urban – The Speed of Now Part 1 – My View
When I scanned some of the reviews on other websites, one user assigned a rating of 0.5 / 5.0. I definitely would not go that far, but when you have been following Keith Urban for many years and love his traditional sound, The Speed of Now Part 1 will definitely be quite a departure from the sound you envisage to listen to. Quite likely, you will also not pray too much for a Part 2. Keith Urban changed his sound significantly in this album – and also in my point of view, it did not work out well all the time. Some departures from country music are quite nice listens, some are just too thin. Sorry Keith!
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