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Keith Urban Pushes His Musical Boundaries on 'Fuse'

  • Mary Morningstar

Keith Urban arrives at the 47th annual CMA Awards at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, Nov. 6, 2013.

Keith Urban arrives at the 47th annual CMA Awards at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, Nov. 6, 2013.

It’s been three years since Country star Keith Urban released a studio album. The New Zealand-born singer made good use of that time to create a collection of songs that he describes as “liberating.”

“Little Bit of Everything” was the first single from Urban’s new album, “Fuse.” The song became his 14th Number One Country hit and fueled the album’s chart-topping debut on the Billboard 200 and Country charts.

Urban experimented with different sounds to challenge him musically, but also stayed true to his distinctive style. He worked with nine producers, including R&B hitmakers Benny Blanco and the Norwegian duo Stargate, rock producer Butch Walker, and Mike Elizondo, who’s known for his collaborations with rappers Eminem, 50 Cent and Jay-Z. Pushing his musical boundaries led Urban to title the album “Fuse.”

“It started with just trying to bring things together - instruments, sounds, rhythms and so forth - to fuse things together that I hadn’t done before to this degree," he said. "And, it was also then bringing some writers and producers together that I hadn’t worked with. It was just all these elements, from writers, producers, instruments, sounds, everything being fused together in a way that was different for me.”

Urban says collaborating is his favorite part of creating an album. His goal for “Fuse” was to bring a new energy to his sound, which he feels he achieved by using the diverse group of producers. Among the album’s highlights are duets with Country stars Eric Church and Miranda Lambert.

“Eric [Church] I’ve known for a couple years and I came upon this song called ‘Raise ‘Em Up’ that was just a perfect song for us, and I’m really glad he wanted to be on the record," he said. "And then Miranda opened some shows for us many years ago and we used to sing together at the end of the night. I always loved the way our voices sounded together so in the back of my mind I’ve always had the hope that I could find a song one day that we could do. This song called ‘We Were Us’ came along and it was just the right song at the right time.”

Urban’s duet with Miranda Lambert took only three weeks to enter the Top 20 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, making it one of the fastest climbing songs of his career.

Urban is supporting his new album with a North American tour. His “Light the Fuse” concerts wrap up in early February. Urban has also signed on to judge Season 13 of “American Idol.” His second year on the reality show teams him with Harry Connick Jr. and Jennifer Lopez.