Keith Urban has been a fixture in the top division of country music for all of this century. As the old one ended, he was releasing the album that would open the door to that world, with the self-titled set that gave him four top 20 country hits, including a No. 1.
The Keith Urban album was the New Zealand-born singer-songwriter’s second LP to be titled after himself. In 1991, he’d self-released one that made a modest impression in Australia, before he became a member of the band the Ranch. They were the short-lived Nashville-based outfit who provided Urban’s entrée to Capitol Records, who released the album The Ranch in 1997.
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When the Ranch split up, Urban signed to Capitol as a solo artist and resumed his career in his own name. It turned out to be probably the best move he ever made. Co-producing Keith Urban with Matt Rollings, best known as the keyboard player in Lyle Lovett’s band, Keith co-wrote nine of the album’s 12 songs.
He could also call on the services of such top-drawer musicians as in-demand pedal steel player Paul Franklin, bassist Glenn Worf (much featured on Mark Knopfler’s albums and tours) and hit artist Steve Wariner. Backing vocalists included Emily Robison and Marti Seidel, aka Maguire, from the hot new trio of the day, the Dixie Chicks.
The first country chart single from the album, which debuted in August 1999 and reached No. 18, was ‘It’s A Love Thing.’ The LP was released on 19 October that year, but didn’t make its first appearance on the country countdown until February 2000, a week before ‘Your Everything’ started a run that took it to No. 4.
Then came the song that became Urban’s first country No. 1, ‘But For The Grace Of God,’ and the quartet of hits from the album was completed by another big song, ‘Where The Blacktop Ends,’ co-written by Wariner and Allen Shamblin. By then, for all of his years of paying dues, Urban was undeniably one of the hottest new names in country.
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