Let’s be honest: at this point, Keith Urban is pretty much indistinguishable from Bon Jovi. A light dusting of fiddles and banjos aside, Urban’s latest album, Defying Gravity, is a pure middle-of-the-road adult-pop album, taking as few chances as possible and downplaying anything resembling edge or originality. Overproduced as usual by longtime Urban collaborator Dann Huff, Gravity is full of tight drum loops, processed guitars and layered synths. Its mostly interchangeable songs are rife with lyrical clichés, and Urban’s voice is bland and passion-free.
That’s not to say that Gravity’s songs are all terrible—Urban is still a decent pop songwriter, and catchy singles “Sweet Thing” and “Kiss a Girl” will no doubt garner plenty of radio airplay. He’s less successful with “’Til Summer Comes Around,” which sounds like one of Bon Jovi’s lame Bruce Springsteen pastiches, or the vaguely Kenny Chesney-ish “Why’s It Feel So Long.” Ballad-wise, the moody “Thank You” is probably a tribute to Urban’s wife, actress Nicole Kidman, but it’s so generic that it could be about anyone, and it isn’t appreciably more affecting than the album’s handful of other prom-ready tunes.
Urban’s appeal lies largely in his inoffensiveness, and in that sense Gravity is a complete success. His legions of soccer-mom fans will eat it up, but then again, they probably loved that Bon Jovi “country” album, too.