Featured Artist: Keith Urban
Golden Road, the second solo album from Keith Urban, symbolizes the life and musical journey that has taken him from the Australian farm town of Caboolture to the top of the country music charts. It's a sojourn that has spanned nearly 9,000 miles (including the nerve-racking 10-yard trek across the famed Opry stage to receive the CMA's Horizon Award and more than a decade of writing, picking, living, loving and growing. "Golden Road is more of a state of mind than a place for me," Urban says.
This album offers heretofore-untapped insights into the mind and soul of Urban, a somewhat complicated, yet optimistic and light-hearted man in his observations about himself and others. Urban reveals more of himself on this project than on any recording he's ever done.
"Hopefully it covers the gamut of my personality, from thinking to completely non-thinking, to being in love, joyous love, love for yourself, love for a higher power and gratitude," says Urban, who wrote or co-wrote 8 of the album's 12 songs. "Some of these songs are about things that I wish I could be or I wish I could do; they are not necessarily things that I am. They are idealistic, but that's a good start."
"A song like 'You're Not Alone Tonight' tells you everything I think about my spirituality. 'Song For Dad' tells you how I feel about my father. The songs like 'You Won' and 'You're Not My God' tell you how I feel about addiction and how it can really derail you. If there's a positive tone to this record, it's because I feel so grateful to still be on my journey. I haven't found what I'm looking for, but I feel really blessed to continue down the path to discovery."
The success of his self-titled solo debut, which was certified Gold, gave him the confidence and freedom to push his musical boundaries on this project. His last CD spawned three Top 5 hits, including the No. 1 hit "But For The Grace of God". In addition to the Country Music Association's 2001 Horizon Award, Urban received the Top New Male Vocalist Award at the 2001 Academy of Country Music Awards and a Grammy nomination for his instrumental "Rollercoaster". Kudos immediately poured in from music critics nationwide, from the Chicago Tribune, which included Urban on its annual list of Ten Best country albums, to the Los Angeles Times, which dubbed him a "country artist to watch." (People magazine even included him in its "Sexiest Man Alive" issue.) His image even appeared on the highly coveted cover of USA Today's USA Weekend. Long respected for his guitar playing on Music Row, (he played on albums for Garth Brooks and The Dixie Chicks and now is known for his expertise at the six-string gango), his solo debut established him as a songwriter to be admired as well.
In his highly anticipated sophomore release, Urban builds on this foundation. He's come into his own and he's more comfortable displaying it, experimenting with different instruments, melodies and influences. And it has paid off. Just eight weeks after release, Golden Road was certified Gold and spawned an eight week #1 hit, "Somebody Like You." The debut single spent eight consecutive weeks at the top of the charts. This position put Urban's smash single "Somebody Like You" into the record books for remaining at #1 longer than any other country artist in 2002.
Having spent the better part of last year touring and promoting his new release, Urban was once again embraced by fans and critics all over the country. Billboard Magazine exclaims, "Multi-talented Aussie Keith Urban has what it takes to be a country starGolden Road could very well be the one for the incredibly talented Mr. Urban." According to People Magazine, "this is a Road well worth traveling."
In addition to co-producing six tracks with Dann Huff, he has sole producer credit on the rest of the record. The album also features more of his guitar playing and captures the excitement of his live show "Somebody Like You," has a '70's freedom, while the 12-piece string accompaniment on "Song For Dad" is reminiscent of elaborate rock orchestrations -- a "rock Opry", if you will. Urban's hip simplicity is unveiled in "You Look Good in My Shirt," while you can hear his feeling about something greater than ourselves in "You're Not Alone Tonight."
He portrays the reserved bitterness of the partner being left behind in the ballad "You'll Think of Me," but he also unveils driving on the backroads country in "Who Wouldn't Wanna Be Me." Urban takes his influences from several decades, genres and continents, but puts his own spin on them, combining contagious rhythms with irresistible lyrics and melodies to create a sound that's brand new.
"I think a little bit more of my Aussie pub influence has come back into my playing. It has a certain primal rawness to it and I think I'm starting to let that come out again. When I came here, that's the way I played and it freaked everybody out so I toned it down radically in order to let people know me slowly. So the last record was more about letting people get to know me a little bit, and this one is hopefully letting more of myself out. It's kind of like the sixth time you meet your girlfriend's parents."
Urban began playing the guitar at age six. When not coaxing his tiny fingers to master chords, he was listening to his father's Don Williams, Glen Campbell and Charley Pride albums. At age seven, he knew that one day he would to move to Nashville to play country music. He started winning country music talent shows by age eight and four years later was steadily booking his band at local clubs. He mimicked every note on the Dire Straits records and soon developed his now-signature style of playing.
In 1990 he signed with EMI in Australia and recorded his first solo album, which charted four No. 1 country hits. Buoyed by that success, he decided to move to Nashville in 1992. After the move, he formed a three-piece group, called The Ranch, and landed a record deal with Capitol Records after their live shows generated tremendous excitement. Although critics loved The Ranch's innovative sound, the band broke up after one album. So Urban returned to his solo career, proving immediately that this was what he was destined to do.
"I don't want it labeled in any way other than it's just me," he says of his album. "People say there are only two types of music -- good and bad -- but that's not true. There's only stuff you like and stuff you don't. That's really all that matters. If you think it's good, it probably is. So I just want people to check it out. If you dig it give it to somebody else. That's what I do."