Right between marrying Nicole Kidman and going to rehab, Keith Urban altered his sunny pop-country formula with 2006's overcast, eclectic Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing his first-ever American album to yield exactly zero No. 1 hits. So feel free to celebrate the music industry’s fondness for overcorrection (what up, Kelly Clarkson) when considering this follow-up, Defying Gravity, because Urban is way back on message. He's taken such an aggressive header into the fluffy clouds of romantic optimism, in fact, that he should have just mailed Van Morrison a couple bucks and called this thing Love, Love & Crazy Love. Get thee behind him, cynicism!
Good thing Urban has a gift for making radio-baiting hooks and production feel enthusiastically fresh, whether he's cribbing an intro from the New Radicals' ''You Get What You Give'' on ''Standing Right in Front of You,'' borrowing Kenny Chesney's beachcomber vibe for ''Why's It Feel So Long,'' or ripping himself off left and right with just about everything else. The gem tones of his stellar guitar work deserve a lot of credit for grounding these proceedings: When the nervous, first-date riff of ''Sweet Thing'' gets reprised underneath album closer ''Thank You,'' for example, it manages to ward off both a drum machine and gushy Kidman-centric lyrics, and weirdly, you don't begrudge the guy his euphoria. You may need to go strangle a bunny to get your edge back, but you don't begrudge him. B
Download This: Listen to the song ''Sweet Thing'' on imeem.com