“Fuse” is Keith Urban’s first studio album in three years, and expectations were running high. So was curiosity, as it was revealed that Keith not only enlisted the assistance of producers he’d worked with before, like Dann Huff, but also some surprising choices, like Mike Elizondo (best known for working with Eminem) and Butch Walker (Pink, Avril Lavigne). He brought in EIGHT producers in all for this record! Coulda been a “cluster,” but, for the most part, it all “fuses” together quite nicely.
Somewhere in My Car Keith certainly has a lot of songs with references to cars and driving (Put You in a Song, Days Go By, etc.). The latest is a deceptively uptempo, bright-sounding song that’s actually about a breakup. He is bummed out about coming home to an empty apartment, wishing he could bring himself to take the pictures off the walls that only remind him of this girl that is gone. “I know you’re never coming back, But in my mind, we’re somewhere in my car…” A good song, but I’m not convinced that Keith is really the type of guy who’d live in the past and mope over some a broken relationship. Nor do I believe that any gal would be crazy enough to leave Keith Urban!
Even the Stars Fall 4U Keith has said in interviews leading up to the release of “Fuse,” that he didn’t want to keep on making the same album over and over, and this track highlights his eagerness to think, write and play “out of the box.” This song would be more at home at Pop/ Top 40 radio than on a country station. Catchy and pleasant, in spite of the fact that the title sounds like one of those bad pickup lines in those Cupid.com ads.
Cop Car Keith is a little old to be singing about getting arrested with a gal and thinking “your dad is gonna kill me,” then falling in love “in the back of a cop car.” Unless he’s thinking back a good 25 years or so. Pretty little love song, and the lyrics paint a clear picture: “I was too busy watching you go wild, child, to be worried about going to jail.” Maybe Keith’s much-younger sound-alike country compadre, Hunter Hayes, would’ve been a better choice to record this song.
Shame is a stark self-examination in which Keith seemingly takes inventory of the mistakes he’s made and the people he’s hurt. “Promises I made and bills I never paid, another missed birthday, Shame on me, shame on me, Bridges that I burned and lovers that I hurt, lessons never learned, Shame on me shame on me.” Never too late to make amends, Keith! A very good candidate for a single. Shows the kind of emotional maturity I would expect from KU at this stage of his career, as opposed to the two tracks it’s sandwiched in between. (While it sounds autobiographical, Keith did not have a hand in writing this. The tune boasts no less than seven songwriters!)
Good Thing This isn’t country… but it’s still, well, a good thing! Starts out with crunchy rock guitars, then a thumpy, disco-like bass line kicks in. Lightweight lyrics, but they work with the song’s addictive groove. A cross between Keith’s earlier hit “Sweet Thing” and the 1978 Exile smash, “Kiss You All Over.” “The possibilities, Mmm they’re killin’ me, like you’re killin’ every dude in the room with the way you move,” Keith sings slyly.
We Were Us A duet featuring my favorite male and female country artists, Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert??? Thank you, God! Ladies first: Ran starts, Keith takes the second verse, and when they come together in the chorus, it’s magical! Keith has some of the best lines: “Shotgun sunset, a cool mint kiss, back seat promise, breaking it.” The hook of the chorus is, “Money was gas, dreams were dust, love was fast, and we were us.” Interesting that it was composed by three outside songwriters. I’d have been interested to hear what Keith and Miranda might’ve composed together.
Love’s Poster Child “Show Me How it’s done this side of Dixie. I’m a broke down truck, Baby, won’t you fix me?” Um. I’m glad Keith didn’t write this one! LOL But the man can sing anything with conviction!
She’s My 11 Oh, here’s my country Keithy! More conventional sound here, sounds like it coulda been a track off KU’s 2002 “Golden Road” CD. Nothing special or original in the lyrics here, but it’s great to hear Keith jamming on his ganjo!
Come Back To Me Mmm… Now this is a sexy song! A slithering, sensual rhythm, reminiscent of KU’s “You’ll Think of Me,” only that was an epic breakup song, whereas this is an overt overture of seduction. “”If there’s lips that you wanna get drunk on, Ferris wheels that you wanna get stuck on, go… See everything you think you need to see, then come back to me.” How creative… and did I already say “sexy”? Yeah, well I just said it again! Even sexier is the fact that Keith loves her enough to let her go, if she’s too free a spirit. “I wanna hold you, but I don’t wanna hold you back,” he croons. Swoon! Kinda breaks my heart that he didn’t write it, though…
Red Camaro Of course KU would include a song called “Red Camaro” on an album. I like the instrumentality of the song, ganjo and fiddle. better than the actual content of the song. “Staring at your legs on the leather of my red Camaro” sounds a little creepy, like a dude lookin’ to “get some” on the first date. (This song also brought to you by Coca Cola.)
Little Bit of Everything We’re all familiar with this one by now. The album’s affable first single recently became KU’s 15th #1 single. I still like the imagery of hanging “a disco ball from an old oak tree.” Kudos to the Warren Brothers on some great songwriting, as always. One of my favorite hook lines of the year, “I know that I don’t need a whole lot of everything, I just want a little bit of everything.”
Raise ‘Em Up (with Eric Church) I expected something more. Harder. More rockin’. This song is pure, front porch pickin’ country. Melodically, there are parts that sound like Keith plagiarized his own song, “Somebody Like You.” The phrase “Raise Them Up” doesn’t just refer to raising your beers in the air for a sudsy toast (as the presence of E.C. might lead you to believe), but also to raising your voice, your flags, your babies.
Heart Like Mine Keith gravitates to the piano for this ethereal, heartfelt ballad, which finds Keith trying to undo mistakes he’s made and salvage a relationship he’s almost destroyed. “I’m the son of a son of a headstrong man, so defensive, so full of foolish pride. But I just will not lose you, Baby…” Another decidedly un-country song, one that leads me to believe Keith has been listening to a lot of Maroon 5.
*These last three songs are “bonus” tracks” found on the Deluxe Edition of the CD. Only one of which I think is good enough to have been on the regular album.
*Black Leather Jacket These are the type of nostalgic lyrics we’ve come to expect from Kenny Chesney, who tends to revisit his youth again and again, in redundant tunes like “Young” and “I Go Back.” I wouldn’t expect to find this type of fluffernutter on a Keith Urban album. “I wore a black leather jacket way back in high school, and man, lookin’ back at these pictures of us, we were so cool…” My least favorite song on the album.
*Gonna B Good This song makes me want to don some jean shorts and swing my legs off the back of a pickup truck. Keith really lets loose on a bevy of instruments here: electric, acoustic and slide guitars, ganjo, bouzouki and baby sitar, as well as harmony vocals. A lot of KU bang for the buck! “Red sun in a lazy sky, sittin’ on the end of my hood, Turning in a Friday night, Yeah, this is gonna be good!” Great Friday night song, even if he hadn’t actually said the words “Friday night!”
*Lucky Charm A happy, fast trip that sounds like Keith probably wrote it in half an hour. It also sounds like the Gin Blossoms, back in their 1990s jangle-pop glory days.
I am much happier with Fuse than I was with KU’s last release, “Get Closer,” which I wound up giving away. I wonder and worry about the fact that Keith only wrote about half the songs on this new project, but I guess he’s making songwriters happier and a little bit richer by doing so. My faves: Shame, Come Back To Me and We Were Us. Four out of five stars.
Toby Keith brought his “Hammer Down Tour” to Syracuse on August 23, stopping at the New York State Fair, and bringing rising star Kip Moore along for the ride. It appeared to be a nearly sold-out show (from my vantage point waaaay up in the Grandstand, I could spot some empty seats in the handicapped section).
I was just as excited to see Kip (okay, maybe more so) as I was to see Toby, being a huge fan of the young hitmaker’s debut album, “Up All Night.” The CD has earned him the moniker “Hillbilly Springsteen,” from critics. Kip opened the show with one of the standout album tracks, “Crazy One More Time,” then proceeded to strut, saunter and slither his way through a total of ten songs, including his hits “Something ‘Bout a Truck,” “Beer Money,” and “Hey Pretty Girl.” He gave the audience a sneak preview of some of the new tunes that will appear on his upcoming sophomore CD. There wasn’t a lot of stage banter with Kip, and what there was sounded scripted, and was peppered unnecessarily with salty language. He went off on some well-rehearsed tangent about there being three stages to every heartbreak (a story/ joke that I’m sure his bandmates are sick of hearing night after night), but, as my concert buddy Janelle pointed out, you couldn’t understand him. No, it wasn’t Kip’s Georgia accent, but rather microphone distortion, that rendered most of his rambling indecipherable. Well… he looked good, anyway! (Fortunately for those of us seated miles from the stage, there were two giant screens on either side of it.)
There was a long wait between the end of Kip’s set and the beginning of Toby’s, which came as no surprise, as it’s well-known that TK puts on a show with lots of special effects, so extra setup time is required. A lot of folks had waited until towards the end of Kip’s set to start trickling in, most of them with beers in hand. By the time TK’s band started cranking their instruments, people were ready for a show! The roar of the crowd hit fever pitch when the star of the show finally appeared. Toby launched into a double dose of patriotism, with “American Ride” and “Made in America.” When he wasn’t celebrating life in the Good Ole U.S.A., you can bet TK was singing the praises of alcohol (“Whiskey Girl,” “Beers Ago,” “Drinks After Work,” “Red Solo Cup,” “I Love This Bar,” and more). A couple of Fan Favorite non-singles made their way into the mix, like “Get Out of My Car” (an album track from Toby’s 2010 album, “Bullets in the Gun”) and the cult classic “bus song” “I’ll Never Smoke Weed With Willie Again.” I’d heard that Toby doesn’t include any of his older hits in his live shows, but this turned out to be untrue. He treated the crowd to his very first number one smash, “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” and “A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action”(both circa 1993), as well as the 1999 single that is considered his breakthrough to superstardom, “How Do You Like Me Now?” The predictable encore consisted of another patriotic two-fer, “American Soldier” and “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American).” Like his opening act, Toby kept the between-song banter to a bare minimum (more time to play as many hits as possible, I guess). Neither Kip or Toby introduced their band members to the audience, which is kind of a dis to the talented musicians and background singers, don’t you think?) Pyrotechnics were peppered throughout the show, for maximum effect. The concert started at 7:30 and wound up a little after 11. A good time was had, and a ton of beer consumed, by all!
Last Thursday, I was working, doing the afternoon drive on Froggy. It was fortuitous that I was asked to fill in the day that I did. I received a phone call during the “all request” part of the show, that had nothing to do with music.
The caller was Steve, a grandfather from Watertown, and he was at the end of his rope. He’d tried other local media outlets, such as Newzjunky and Craigslist, to no avail. His twelve-year-old grandson, Daniel, had just visited the area, from Palo Alto, CA. Prior to coming to Watertown, Daniel had been at baseball camp at Cooperstown Dreams Park. Daniel is a budding baseball star, traveling all around the country playing in tournaments. Pretty cool, huh?
Well, here’s what’s NOT so cool. Last weekend, Daniel, and his grandparents were headed up to Cape Vincent for a family outing. They met up with another family member, Daniel’s aunt, on Airport Road, when the aunt noticed the tailgate of Grandpa Steve’s pickup was down.
Turns out, two items had fallen out of the back of the truck. One was a cooler, packed full of food and beverages. The other, was a duffle bag, belonging to Daniel. Inside, were Daniel’s personal baseball camp mementos, souvenirs and a diary. The family immediately backtracked, searching for the items, hoping to find them in the road, somewhere along the path they’d traveled. But their search turned up nothing. Somebody had obviously picked up both the cooler and the duffel bag and had made off with them.
Nobody involved in the recovery effort cares about the cooler. All of its contents are long since eaten/ drunken up. The cooler itself can be replaced inexpensively at Family Dollar. The duffel bag and its contents? You can’t put a price tag on that! Distraught, and feeling guilty, the grandparents offered a cash reward for the return of the bag and, more importantly, its contents, but their plea fell on deaf ears. They had to send Daniel home without his priceless belongings.
I played back Steve’s phone call over the Froggy airwaves. I’m sure it must have been heard by hundreds of people, at least. I put the story on my personal Facebook page, where it was shared 577 TIMES!!!!! But… no bag. No nothing.
My theory is that some young kids, not Dry Hill residents, or necessarily even local people, found both the cooler (whose contents they devoured) and the duffle bag. Maybe it was a really nice duffle bag, and they kept it. But why they would keep its contents, which would be blatantly obvious to the simplest of simpletons, to be the belonging of a CHILD??? It isn’t like it’s Justin Bieber’s diary, which you could sell for a million dollars on eBay! These are things that would be valuable only to Daniel, and his family, who are so proud of him. I shudder to think that anyone could be so callous as to casually flip through a boy’s journal, realize it wasn’t something they could resell, and toss it into the garbage, but I fear that is what happened.
I do NOT believe the “criminals” are local. They would have heard about the reward by now, and they would have come forward, with their hands out. Grandpa Steve even gave me his Swan Road address, imploring the finder to drop the bag off on the lawn in the middle of the night, if they were too ashamed/ embarrassed to come forward in person. No luck.
I still have my journals and diaries from when I was a young girl. Two BOXES of them! They helped me research my own history, when I was writing my most recent book. More than that, those old notebooks know more about me, than I remember about me. I haven’t read their yellowed pages in decades, but I know that they are a history of my heart and soul. At least Daniel, at twelve years old, can start over. Maybe one day, when he’s in the Major Leagues, he will share the story of what he lost in the Summer of 2013… and what he has learned in the meantime.
UPDATE… After an ad appeared in the Watertown Daily Times, the duffel bag was returned to the family!!!!
I started working at Froggy 97 on August 6, 2001… nearly 12 years ago. Prior to that, I’d worked for about the same length of time for an oldies station on Long Island. 12 years is an extremely long time in the radio business to work at any one station; it’s roughly the equivalent of working 25 years at any given company in the “real” workforce. I guess radio years are sorta like “dog years.,” in a way. So, I’ve been lucky.
In my (time) at Froggy 97, I was privileged to experience things most people could only dream of; I was handed a New York State Broadcasters Award by Barbara Walters. I’ve stood on a stage before thousands of people, to introduce superstars like Alan Jackson and Reba McEntire. I had my arm around Keith Urban and Blake Shelton. Wait a minute… maybe it really WAS all just a dream. These things do not happen in real life!
There are too many people to thank individually, but I want to give a shout-out to some of the “regulars,” whose voices are as familiar to me, from their phone calls, as mine is to them, from the radio: Jan Neuroth, Becky Sullivan, Caroline Sheppard, Mary and Annie Alan Jackson’s biggest fans), Grandma Cora, Donnie Bravo, the late Bobby Davis, Whistle Pig, Aaron Kay, John DeFranco, Donna Clark, Deb Waite, and especially Julie Burrows, who is perhaps the world’s biggest Toby Keith fan, as well as my “second mother.” To those involved in the charitable organizations Froggy has partnered with over the years, like Joe Rich and Tim Dermady at the DPAO, and Doug, Beth, Linda and Angel at the Jefferson County SPCA. It’s been my pleasure to help you out. Also, to all of the talented people I’ve met during the years I emceed North Country Idol… Keep on singing! I hope to see you performing all over the North Country, if not on National TV someday!
Finally, to my Regent Broadcasting/ Stephens Media Group co-workers, both past and present, both full-time and part time, both on-air personalities and those in the sales department and Management… thanks for your friendship and support, and I hope we keep in touch for many years to come.
Froggy listeners can still reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow me on Twitter @cricketmoss. I may be back occasionally, on Saturday mornings, so keep tuning in!
The last song I played on WLNG, three days before I started at Froggy 97, was “Someday We’ll Be Together,” by Diana Ross and the Supremes. I wanted to choose a song with a similar sentiment to play as my unofficial “last” song on Froggy. (And no, it’s not a song by Johnny Paycheck!) And I thought this one would be appropriate, because this is NOT where it ends. And I will carry you with me… each and every one of you who have made the past 12 years so special.
Thank You All,
I’ve been taking a break from my blogging, but fully intended to write a detailed recap of the DWTS finale, because I just KNEW that Kellie and Derek were gonna win and this blog was originally supposed to be a country music blog. AS luck would have it, however, I just moved and I didn’t have my cable hooked up in time to even WATCH the big episode. Of course. I did actually, swear to God, ain’t lyin’, dream that Kellie and Derek were crowned the victors when I went to bed Tuesday night. I was not surprised when I woke to the news that the couple was, indeed, the champs. Real happy for them. Wish I’d been able to watch the full episode live and enjoy the suspense.
As if Miranda Lambert didn’t have enough going on with her red-hot solo career and her marriage to Blake Shelton, somehow she finds time for cool little side projects, like writing and recording songs with her group, the Pistol Annies. The trio is comprised of Miranda Lambert (Lone Star Annie), Ashley Monroe (Hippie Annie) and Angaleena Presley (Holler Annie). Their 2011 “Hell on Heels” was a critically acclaimed (although not embraced by radio) debut. Perhaps the folks at those big awards shows (CMAs, ACMs, Grammys) were confused by the Annies and their alter egos. Maybe they thought the gals made the album as a farce, or on a whim? I can’t think of any other explanation as to why they weren’t nominated for Best Album, Best New Artist of Best Group. Yeah, the record was THAT good, and if you, as a country music fan, don’t own it, your collection is incomplete.
That having been said, I had high expectations for their sophomore CD, “Annie Up.” The twelve tracks were all co-written by Lambert, Monroe and Presley. Here’s my track-by-track review.
I Feel a Sin Comin’ On, the opening track, is a bluesy sultry number. that starts out acapella, with finger snaps. “You can see it all over my face, sweet temptation all over the place, give me tall, dark and handsome, mix it up with something strong. I feel a sin comin’ on.”
Hush Hush Fast and incredibly catchy, this is the album’s first single, and the Annies’ highest-charting hit to date. The song spells family Dysfunction with a capital D. “My brother got out of rehab, right around Christmas time. Mama made a turkey, Daddy was worried he was gonna have to break up a fight…” Fun!
Being Pretty Ain’t Pretty is a tongue-in-cheek ballad “The red on my nails keeps chipping off, the pink on my lips just adds to the flaws, I ain’t good at fake lashes, anytime I wear high heels I fall.” Ha… funny concept, but I don’t believe the P.A.s really have these problems!
Unhappily Married, for me, is a stand-out track. It’s plucky, playful, and… startlingly real. Well maybe it’s just where my life is. You better start workin’ some overtime, can’t buy heels on nickels and dimes. You’re goin’ bald, and I’m gettin’ fat. I hate your mom, and you hate my dad. Hey, hey, it’s alright, everybody fusses, everybody fights,With all of the baggage you and me carry, we’ll spend forever unhappily married.”
Loved by a Workin’ Man A mid-tempo ode to all the blue-collar, hard-workin’ guys out there who might not help out with the housework, but who know how to treat their women right.“He knows how to treat his woman, and he knows how to make ends meet. He’ll take you for a ride in his four wheel drive, and he’ll fix about anything. He likes to get dirty but he cleans up good. He drinks with his buddies, but he prays when he should. There ain’t nothing better than, bein’ loved by a workin’ man.”
Blues, You’re a Buzzkill is a dark ode to depression, that can’t be abated by Jack Daniels or pain pills. “The way that you hurt, the way that you sting, the way that you bring me down to my knees. If whiskey can’t drown you, what the hell will? Hey blues, you’re a buzzkill.” Powerful.
Don’t Talk About Him, Tina Swinging,sassy woman-to-woman advice “Don’t talk about him, Tina. Best thing he ever did was leave ya. You better pull yourself together. Tina I swear you’re better than just waitin’ around on some rodeo man.” We all need a bestie like Lonestar Annie to give us a pep talk during those woe-is-me, emotional ruts.
Trading One Heartbreak for Another Ballad depressing One of the sadder songs on the album.“I’ve traded on heartbreak for another, one kind of pain for a different kind of pain and I wonder if this gonna hurt even more. I’m finally alive, but it’s killing who I’m living for.” This song effectively portrays the vicious cycle of destructive relationships that some women seem addicted to.
Dear Sobriety I thought, from the title, that this was gonna be a fun song, but it’s actually another very serious ballad., that tackles the very real topic of alcoholism that runs in families. Family alcoholism. “It runs in my family, it runs in my blood, and just like my daddy, I can’t get enough. Every last drop I say it’s the last, then I drive to the store and I give up my plan Dear sobriety, please come back to me.”
Damn Thing Okay I was getting depressed… Thank goodness this track is a chicken pickin’, knee-slappin’ toe-tapper! Now we’re cookin’ with fire! “Been washed in the blood of the lamb, and I’ve washed blood off my hands, and can’t do a damn thing about it…” Banjo heaven!
Girls Like Us Another ballad, This one kind of drags. Lyricially, I think it’s the weakest link on the album. “Girls like us, we don’t mess around we don’t tie you up just to let you down. Don’t girls like us make the world go ‘round. and ‘round.”
I Hope You’re the End of My Story The Annies close out the album with a pretty little love song. “I hope you’re the end of my story, I hope you’re as far as it goes, I hope you’re the last word I ever utter, It’s never your time to go.” Aw, so they do have a soft side, after all!
Personally, I like them better when they’re “Takin’ Pills” or singing about a “Trailer For Rent” (both kickin’ tunes off their first album). “Annie Up” will probably sell more copies than its predecessor, because their first record got almost zero promotion (but still sold fairly well). Now that they’re “established,” radio has been more receptive to the Annies, and their Facebook pages has over 387,000 likes, the gals are on their way to selling lots of records. I personally liked the first one better. I rate this one a B-Plus. I would have given it an A-minus if there weren’t so many ballads bogging the album down. You’ll give it an A if you love old-school, traditional country, with steel guitars, banjo and twang. If Loretta Lynn owns an iPod, you can bet she’ll have “Annie Up” on her playlist!