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Keith Urban, who will return as an American Idol judge for season 13, has been keeping busy in the off season with his latest album, Fuse, to drop Tuesday.
The country singer’s seventh studio album features his hit single “Little Bit of Everything, which currently holds the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart. Fuse features collaborations with hitmakers including Butch Walker, Mike Elizondo, Jay Joyce and Norwegian duo Stargate’s Tor Hermansen and Mikkel Eriksen.
“I knew it would take time to build an album in a different way,” Urban said in a statement of spending nearly two years to develop the new tunes for Fuse. “The stars aligned and it was the right time to experiment, have things not work and still be able to try again. I was ready for that journey. I didn’t want to think in terms of any limitations on the songs — just honor the song and let them be what they want to be.”
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Read what the music industry’s top critics have to say about Fuse below.
Michael McCall of the Associated Press recognized Urban’s attempt to branch out from his usual sounds, but noted, “it’s to his credit that so many songs bear his distinctive artistic stamp.” He explained, “For example, ‘Even The Stars Fall 4 U’ — co-produced by Walker — may feature a pumped-up chorus, but it sounds like a natural evolution of Urban’s upbeat hits from the last dozen years.”
While McCall enjoyed the musician’s creativity, he also stated, “Not everything works — ‘Good Thing,’ co-produced by Elizondo, apes too many current country cliches to sound fresh.”
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Giving it three-and-a-half stars, Rolling Stone‘s Will Hermes didn’t find the country singer’s new beats any more experimental than past singles, writing, “It’s hardly news: Urban has been working crossovers since his 1999 solo debut, and even held his own between co-judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey on last year’s American Idol.
“What is surprising, though, is how unforced and fun the record sounds,” added Hermes. “An affable country talent, Urban here becomes an impressive twang-pop ambassador.”
In a track-by-track review, Hitfix’s Melinda Newman gave Fuse an overall B grade. Newman described the hit single, “Little Bit of Everything,” as being “as easy going as the song’s lyrics, which are about not ‘needing too much of nothing,’ and being happy with life’s simple pleasures.” Meanwhile, she graded the song “Come Back To Me” with an A: “Probably the biggest stretch sonically on the album, ‘Come Back To Me’ is built around a hypnotic electronic loop and a woozy guitar solo.”
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Jerry Shriver of USA Today commented on how he enjoyed Urban’s collaboration with notable country musicians. “Deleting generic material would have made the gems pop more, but that’s minor since there are plenty of keepers, and not just the duets with Miranda Lambert (‘We Were Us’) and Eric Church (‘Raise ‘Em Up’). Shame credits seven writers, but is worth it.”
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