Be Here by Keith Urban (2004)

18Jan11

A lot of country music fans get angry when artists like Keith Urban are categorized as “country”. Sure, he’s a pretty boy from Australia whose songs fit like a glove on top 40 radio stations next to Taylor Swift. But I think the real litmus test for determining what gets categorized as country is pretty easy: just play a song for someone who claims to hate country music, and they’ll tell you if it’s country or not. They will hate Keith Urban, but they’re dummies. His music is awesome, and has just enough “twang” and hollering to fit the mold of country music. But while Urban struggles to be fully accepted by country or pop music fans, he just keeps making great music. Each of his albums has a good mix of love songs, upbeat concert songs, and a couple of true country jams mixed in. Be Here does not disappoint, and may actually mark the high point of his career.

I started following Keith Urban after seeing him open for Kenny Chesney in 2004. He was great at the time, but hadn’t really hit stride yet in the U.S. The release of Be Here really marks the moment that he became a serious player in the country world. It’s a hell of an album…the first 2 tracks (‘Days Go By’ and Better Life’) are exactly what you’re hoping gets played when you go to a concert, then he kicks right into the mushy stuff, and then he wrote in riffs that would display his superior guitar skills the rest of the way. That’s one refreshing thing about Keith Urban…if you know anything about country music, you know that the majority of country songs are written by pro’s in Nashville. He certainly gets some help in the writing process (you can tell on ‘She’s Gotta Be’), but the guy writes the majority of his songs himself, and plays them live. I know that doesn’t sound terribly unique, but in the country music industry it is. Another selling point for folks who don’t normally like country music…his voice is very legit, and doesn’t have that put-on accent (Git ‘er dun!) that annoys many people. Give him a shot…you’ll like it.

He’s a kinda troubled guy (plenty of media attention for alcohol issues and relationship drama with wife Nicole Kidman) and that translates to moody songs. But I don’t think many artists throughout history have gotten anywhere because they were well-adjusted, right? This guy can write/sing/play the pants off of a love song…check out ‘The Hard Way’ for some great mixed messages. ‘You’re My Better Half’ was a huge radio single a few years ago, and for good reason. Hey, country music never said it wasn’t corny! Be Here is a really solid start-to-finish record…plenty of “hits” to recommend, but also a cohesive album overall. You would be hard-pressed to find a more consistent musician in any genre these days than Keith Urban, and if you want to check him out at his best then look no further.

music turtle recommends: DOWNLOAD IT!

What do you think about this album? Comment below

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