CD Review of Love, Pain, & the Whole Crazy Thing by Keith Urban

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Love, Pain, & the Whole Crazy Thing
starstarstarstarhalf star Label: Capitol Nashville
Released: 2006
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Before we get into the review of country mega-star Keith Urban’s new album, Love, Pain, & the Whole Crazy Thing, we have to reflect on the fact that dude now shares a bed with Nicole Kidman. If that doesn’t inspire Urban to be the best he can be to keep himself in said bed, and to rival his new wife and her ex-husband Tom Cruise in tabloid placement frequency, nothing will. At press time, Urban was in a rehab facility that he checked himself into for alcohol abuse just before the release of the new album. But whether or not Urban is in the process of getting his life in order (again, to keep his spot on that bed), we can’t look past one important thing—that he has delivered one spectacular record.

What more can you say about a singer/songwriter that has already found the formula for writing hit songs and continues to build on that? Well, let’s just say this Aussie now living in Nashville has made himself at home in Music City, by drinking the Kool-Aid (no pun intended) that makes country music songwriters tick. Love, Pain, & the Whole Crazy Thing is laced with the usual storytelling that the Nashville community thrives on, but it’s also so full of hooks in a way that would make folks like Don Henley or Paul McCartney proud.

Those lofty comparisons, in addition to being lofty, also separate Urban from his country music peers, because quite frankly he is a pop artist with a bit of twang in his delivery. The opening track, “Once in a Lifetime,” is a timeless rocker that brings to mind the Eagles or even the guitar-driven solo work of Foreigner’s Lou Gramm. “Shine” is another rocker that is laced with strings, used effectively the same way that the Goo Goo Dolls use them. Urban does flex a bit more of his twang muscles on tracks like “I Told You So” and the Montgomery Gentry-ish “Raise The Barn,” but he’s still able to insert his potent hooks. Then the real payoff comes on “Stupid Boy,” a single that Urban didn’t write. The song implies spousal abuse, and it’s not only lyrically impacting but also has a chorus as big as Australia. Another strong track among 13 strong tracks is “Everybody,” a song Urban co-wrote with his buddy Richard Marx.

Props to a man who has the stones to realize he needs help, but while Keith Urban spent part of his autumn in a rehab facility, two things happened. The leaves changed finally changed color in Nashville, and Urban’s best effort to date was released. Yes, you can take the country music mega-star off the streets, but you can’t take his music off of it. Nor will you want to when you hear Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing—it’s one of the year’s best releases in any genre.

~Mike Farley