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Interview:
Keith Urban excited about next album
 

By GARY GRAFF
@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

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It's never too late for an old road dog like Keith Urban to learn -- or at least try -- some new tricks.

Urban's been at it since 1990, with four platinum-or-better albums and 27 Top 10 country singles, 13 of which hit No. 1. But this year's aptly named Light The Fuse Tour is the first time the Australian-born singer, songwriter and instrumentalist -- who also happens to be married to actress Nicole Kidman and was an "American Idol" judge this season -- is out in front of one of his albums. "The Fuse," his ninth studio set, is due out Sept. 10, but because recording went "down to the wire" Urban is in the unfamiliar position of promoting something well in advance of its release.

"Certainly I've never hit the road before an album was finished, but that's what's happening this year," says Urban, 45, who's been on the tour since mid-July. "Basically we're going to hit the road with one single out ('Little Bit of Everything'), an album in the works, and there'll just be certain songs that feel right to do live even though nobody knows them.

"The way I look at it is that when people hear a song on the radio, that's the first time they've heard it, too, and hopefully it connects with them and they want to hear it again. So our stage will be kind of like our radio station, and we'll be playing these songs for the first time."

"Diversity" is the buzz-word for "Fuse," according to Urban, who worked with a broad array of, well, diverse collaborators in Nashville and Los Angeles. That included longtime compatriot Dann [cq] Huff as well as Nathan Chapman, Butch Walker, Mike Elizondo, Jay Joyce and Zach Crowell. "I'm just seeing what comes out of me working with those guys," Urban explains. "I love working with people who play a lot of instruments, and really, all these guys play lots of instruments and they program and play synths and they can build an entire track just on their own.

"I love the idea of working close and collaboratively with people like that so we can work quickly and we can not have to try and get this vision across to six, seven, eight different people in the studio -- not exclusively, but I like starting like that."

Urban says the album has "a nice mix" of his own material and songs contributed by other writers. "Little Bit of Everything" is one of the latter, penned by Brad and Brett Warren (aka the Warren Brothers) and Kevin Rudolf through a network of mutual friends -- "Kind of an usual way to have a song pitched to you," urban notes.

"I loved it," Urban says, "so I set some time to go and (record) the song and I thought Kevin was the only one who wrote it. After the fact I found out that Brad and Brett Warren were also writers on the song, so that was kind of nice because I've known those guys for a long time. So it was really nice to cut a song of theirs without knowing it was theirs; then they genuinely know that I love the song."

Making "Fuse" has been part of an eventful year for Urban which also saw him guesting on tracks for new albums by John Fogerty and Buddy Guy and appearing with the Rolling Stones during one of their 50th anniversary concerts in Los Angeles. "It was amazing, absolutely amazing," he says now. "One one hand it's the most surreal experience, sitting in with the Stones, and on the other hand it was so easy and effortless because they're such a real band, and they made it so easy to be on stage with them. I had the best time."

Urban is equally positive about The "Idol" gig, which he says was "nothing but a great experience" despite being caught in the well-documented crossfire between fellow judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj. "If you saw the clubs I played in growing up in Australia, it wasn't so bad," Urban cracks. Urban is still waiting to find out if he'll be back for another season, but it sounds like he's be up for it.

"I enjoyed every bit of it," Urban says. "I enjoyed going to work every day, which not everybody can say. But I literally, officially have no clue as to what I'm doing or what they're doing, and so consequently I'm just focusing on the things that are happening, which is the album and the tour and we'll see what happens from there."

After this story was published, it was announced that Urban will return to "American Idol" as a judge for Season 12

Keith Urban, Little Big Town and Dustin Lynch perform at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 4, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $57.75 and $42.75 pavilion, $28 lawn. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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