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Keith Urban’s latest fresh, upbeat

Sun., March 29, 2009, midnight

Keith Urban

“Defying Gravity” (Capitol Nashville)

Keith Urban’s new “Defying Gravity” arrives at a wholly different time in the country music star’s life than his previous studio album, 2006’s “Love, Pain & The Whole Crazy Thing.”

The distinction comes across clearly in the exuberance and comfort expressed in his new songs. Back then, Urban had just checked into rehab, barely four months after his marriage to Nicole Kidman.

Urban (who comes to the Spokane Arena on Sept. 14) sounds decidedly more buoyant on “Defying Gravity.” The album’s sophisticated arrangements, several of which unfold at over the five-minute mark, also suggest the Australian native made the best of his extended creative break (which included the release of a greatest-hits compilation in late 2007).

Indeed, some songs – “Kiss A Girl” and the album’s first hit, “Sweet Thing” – concentrate almost too much on musical merriment while letting the lyrics slip into juvenile sentiment.

However, the best songs – the soulful “Standing Right In Front Of You,” the sweet ballad “Only You Can Love Me This Way” and the cover of Radney Foster’s “I’m In” – illustrate the distinctive talent Urban has for tying high-spirited instrumentation to upbeat statements about the pleasures of love and everyday life.

Michael McCall writes for Associated Press.


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