Keith Urban: ‘Get Closer’

Keith Urban has certainly managed to carve a niche for himself in today’s current country music climate with his own brand of country music. On his latest release, Get Closer, he continues to solidify his foothold and remains firmly ensconced in the contemporary country-pop genre.

This latest offering, co-produced by Dan Huff and Urban himself, picks up right where his 2009 release, Defying Gravity, left off. Listeners will already be familiar with the album’s first track and lead-off single, “Put You In A Song,” as it has been a staple on country radio since September. The hit song was co-penned by Urban, Sarah Buxton and fellow Aussie Jedd Hughes. This bouncy summertime romp stills sounds fresh and inviting even in the sub-freezing temperatures of winter, which is a testament to the craftsmanship of Urban’s consistently solid songwriting.

Perfectly following the first hit is the radio friendly, “You Gonna Fly,” which continues in the same vein of the up-tempo, feel good tunes Urban is well known for serving up. Although this is one of the few titles presented here not written by Urban himself, with lyrics such as “hop in this truck and run through the red lights/roll down the windows with the radio loud/come on turn it up yeah,” it sounds as if he could have.

The energetic “Long Hot Summer,” written by Urban with Richard Marx, makes a great companion piece to the two tracks previously mentioned and easily ranks right up there with some of Urban’s best hits. This song sounds as if it can barely wait to burn up the airwaves next summer.

This album also has some stellar ballads, such as “All For You,” and the gorgeous “Right On Back To You,” which includes thunderstorm sound effects that add the perfect touch to this first rate, cozy sounding love song.

Get Closer is another solid and winning collection that Keith Urban fans are sure to find highly enjoyable. The only downside to the set is its shortness in length. Clocking in at just over 33 minutes with only eight tracks, it seems slightly unfinished. Although brief, the excellent quality of the material included here more than makes up for the short playing time. For listeners who are disturbed by this fact, it is highly recommended to seek out the deluxe version, which contains three bonus tracks and four live recordings, and is readily available exclusively at Target stores.

Flea Market Hustlers: ‘Free Demo For Sale’

Flea Market Hustlers has been sharing its brand of country-flavored bluegrass with Murfreesboro audiences and satisfying their fans’ musical fix with their weekly shows for the past four years. By playing local venues such as The Blue Rooster and Mellow Mushroom, the band has built a local following with their unique and inventive interpretations of cover songs as well as their own originals.

The five-piece group delivers a brief but accurate sample of what they have to offer during their live performances on their seven-track EP, Free Demo For Sale. This self-produced mini-album was recorded at The Chicken Ranch in Bradyville and features three of the band’s originals along with four diverse cover tunes, which are all delivered in its distinctive jam-grass style.

The group slams through the brief set beginning with “Drive,” which was written by lead singer David Preston. This standout track includes an incredibly catchy chorus that seeps into the listener’s long-term memory and refuses to let go. The collection also includes such interesting choices as Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf,” which includes a very nice saxophone solo, and late country-folk artist Townes Van Zandt’s “Waiting Around to Die.”

The Hustlers are even bold enough to attempt a remake of Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon” with mixed success. While the song choice would seem to be a likely fit, the chorus suffers from the rapid-fire tempo, although the excellent harmonica playing included here works brilliantly.

Throughout this oddly eclectic and disparate mix of material, band member John Furbush’s exquisite mandolin playing is especially noteworthy. Even if country or bluegrass is not your usual cup of tea, this collection is worth checking out for the highly enjoyable take on Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls.” Whether consciously deciding to save this pure delight for last was intentional or not, Flea Market Hustlers deserve a big “two thumbs up” for choosing to include this number. Their excellent reworking and masterful delivery of this familiar rock song was nothing short of genius.

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