Love, Pain & The Whole Crazy Thing
It's tempting to read these songs--many about hope in the face of potential heartbreak--as an adjunct to Keith Urban's own tabloid-fodder life, which lately reads "ex-junkie country star marries Nicole Kidman, enters rehab." But his three previous albums have similar dark undertones. That would also be an underestimation of Urban's creative powers, which are broad enough to balance assembly-line Nashville pop with emotionally fine-tuned artistry. Breezy rockers like "Faster Car," sweet hooky ballads like "Shine," and readymade big-chorus hits like "Once in a Lifetime" rub elbows with more complex numbers like "I Can't Stop Loving You"--an essay about sad courage that starts with an acoustic guitar and adds instrumental textures as it unfolds--and "Stupid Boy," a tale of loss and self-discovery.