Golden Road

by: Keith Urban

Keith Urban's second release for Capitol Records is an early yet devastatingly original piece of work that pointed the way toward his later albums, and it proves him partially responsible for the diverse musical traditions that made their way into the contemporary country scene during the 21st century. While others like Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, and Travis Tritt modeled a sound that included Southern and '70s rock, Urban brought bluegrass, Top 40 pop stylings, and drum loops into the mix, and made them all work in his own songs as well as those he covered. Produced by Urban and Dan Huff, Golden Road is the first place listeners really get to hear the monster guitar slash-and-burn that's so prevalent in his live performances. The album contains two Urban originals in the beautiful, lithe ballad "You're Not Alone Tonight" and the shuffling soft rocker "Song for Dad," both of which showcase the blend of sounds he would later employ as his own trademark mix. The set also contains a pair of excellent cuts by Rodney Crowell, which are particularly suitable, and perhaps were even tailor-made for Urban in "You Won" and "What About Me." The ballad "Raining on Sunday" was originally written by Darrell Brown, as was the other single "You'll Think of Me." Tony Martin's "You Look Good in My Shirt" is a delightfully stinging rocker, and Monty Powell's "Who Wouldn't Want to Be Me" is another, with Urban playing the strings off his banjo as well as electric guitar. Although his later records were bigger hits, this one is consistent enough -- and full of such charm and personality -- that it's difficult to believe Urban didn't write everything here. That he owns these songs as if he did write them makes Golden Road a lasting early achievement. ~ Thom Jurek

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