When Keith Urban “completed” his newest file, the world appeared a little completely different.
A ceaseless Nashville entertainer, Urban first wrapped this assortment of songs as he tore to Las Vegas for residency gigs and eyeballed a season of pageant performances with, hopefully, new tunes.
However the file wasn’t really completed.
“I had an album that would’ve been completed and put out by the point all of the pandemic hit, but in addition proper earlier than that — December, January, February, that entire interval — I [felt] like there’s just some songs that I hadn’t discovered or written but for this file to only end it out,” Keith Urban instructed The Tennessean. “I wasn’t certain what these songs have been, even thematically. I simply knew there was one thing lacking.”
And, as COVID-19 precautions precipitated a lot of the world to briefly fall silent in March, Urban discovered time to make new noise.
Listeners hear the lead to “The Velocity of Now Half 1,” an pressing and well timed follow-up to 2018’s “Graffiti U.” On the 16-track file, the 52-year-old celebrity exudes his experience in crafting intercontinental songs — rooted in well-liked nation music — that push an in any other case unchained sonic panorama recognized to many as uniquely Urban.
The album releases Friday through Capitol Data/UMG Nashville, two days after Keith Urban hosted the 55th annual ACM Awards on the Grand Ole Opry Home.
“I ended up with a lot of time,” Urban mentioned. “[Some] songs acquired achieved due to that ‘discovered‘ time, but in addition these songs have been affected by the point, as properly.
“There’s a universality about these songs that does not restrict them to only this one particular scenario that we’re in.”
What’s ‘The Velocity of Now’?
Urban coined his album “The Velocity of Now Half 1″ final October, earlier than “Now” meant Zoom calls, drive-in concert events and award reveals with out audiences.
Round him on the time, he noticed the “Velocity” of contemporary life — emotionally, bodily and spiritually, he mentioned — impacted extra every year by increasing expertise.
It felt unsustainable, he mentioned.
“It simply felt like we’re selecting up the velocity by means of the roof,” Urban mentioned. “This factor is simply getting sooner and sooner on a regular basis. It is a part of evolution, however this sensible telephone in everyone‘s pocket is driving a brand new velocity that we’re not doing properly maintaining with. I could not see the place the tip sport was … how lengthy will we hold this up?”
After which “increase,” Urban mentioned. COVID-19 turned “Now,” as an idea, on its head.
“I used to be gonna change the title,” Urban mentioned. “I used to be like, ‘That is absurd. What does this imply now?’ However a few pals of mine mentioned, ‘I feel individuals will assume you considered it due to this.’
“I suppose it took on a special that means.”
From jangly and wistful pop-rock heard on “Superman” to a dim-lighted intimacy outlined on “Ain’t It Like A Girl,” Urban etches the sound of “Now” all through every tune. He spent “months and months and months” chopping nuanced electrical guitar for layered nation rock ripper “Tumbleweed” and closed the album by revisiting 2019 single “We Had been” as a duet with the music‘s chief author, Eric Church.
Keith Urban might make data in a self-proclaimed “messy kitchen,” however the finish end result coalesces not not like a well-recognized displaying at Bridgestone Enviornment.
“It is a feeling of a flowing vitality between this music into that music …,” City mentioned. “I actually form it prefer it‘s a present, prefer it‘s a setlist. That is how I’ve at all times sequenced myrecords.”
He continued, “I do know the music I wanna open with, I do know the music I wanna shut with and I do know the journey I wanna go on in-between. It is simply discovering and piecing and pulling collectively all the songs that create that feeling.”
Leaping within the sandbox’
The file showcases a worldwide nation sound synonymous with the Australian artist raised on Johnny Money — who as soon as lower his enamel in a metallic band — and strives to collaborate with disco legends.
He enlisted British songwriter Eg White for “Higher Than I Am,” an interstellar ballad grounded in honesty; for the aforementioned “Superman,” Urban hosted a retreat with an unlikely troupe of songwriters from Los Angeles and Nashville (“Like a cocktail party, actually,” City mentioned — a “let’s simply see what occurs” meet between eclectic company).
“I’ve gotten a lot, significantly better at letting go of expectations … simply suiting up, displaying up and seeing what occurs,” Urban mentioned. “Being within the studio for me is like leaping within the sandbox. Let’s discover some individuals to construct some issues with. Let’s examine what occurs. You by no means know, however you gotta be in it.”
No music might signify the gumbo stewing at his Tennessee compound higher than album opener “Out The Cage.”
Urban recruited Stylish legend Nile Rodgers (Urban and Rogers first linked in 2016 out of “perseverance” from the previous, he mentioned) and genre-blending upstart Breland for a monitor that would not be misplaced within the 1990s European trip-hop scene.
Together with album tracks “Say One thing” and “Stay With,” Urban mentioned “Out The Cage” was born after COVID-19 put a powerful pause on 2020 plans. With strains akin to “I feel they only lock me as much as taunt me/I will not ever let no person personal me/ I will not let these ideas of freedom hang-out me,” the music performs to 2020, however City hopes its message outlasts quarantine.
“[It’s] talking broader to confinement of all sort,” Urban mentioned. “That music meant simply as a lot to me for individuals in useless finish jobs or caught relationships or so many conditions the place we’re confined, oppressed, held again and simply wanna break freed from it.
“I wished this music to talk to all these conditions.”
He discovered a vigorous counterpart in Breland, a 24-year-old Atlanta artist whose single “My Truck” closes a regularly shrinking hole between trendy nation and hip-hop music. Urban tracked down Breland after listening to his debut earworm.
A Wednesday night time name between the artists become Breland cleansing his slate for an instantaneous session that Friday morning. Breland booked it from Atlanta to fulfill City, displaying up about a half-hour early, he mentioned. For Urban‘s file, they co-wrote wrote “Soul Meals” and “Out The Cage.”
The newcomer joins Church, Rodgers and pop star P!nk as a credited visitor artist on the album.
“He is wonderful,” Keith Urban mentioned. “In the event you‘re pushed and passionate and hungry and curious and motivated, it is what you are meant to do. It is how I sought out Nile. I acquired on a aircraft and went to New York and hustled him till we acquired in a studio.”
And Rodgers would not be the one Rock and Roll Corridor of Famer to hitch Urban on “Velocity of Now.”
He tapped Heartbreakers co-founder Benmont Tench for keys on single “God Whispered Your Identify,” which Urban tracked with an ace band and award-winning engineer Ed Cherney. It will be one of many final classes from Cherney, who died in 2019.
“I wished to take action many extra songs with that very same mixture and, sadly, we misplaced Ed manner too quickly and I by no means acquired to do extra recording with that specific group,” Urban mentioned. “However that music actually got here to life for me.”
As for what the following session might carry? Like a lot of this 12 months — and the unbounded music that preceded it — a contemporary canvas awaits.
“It is at all times a clean slate,” Urban mentioned.