Fuse by Keith Urban

It’s neck-and-neck between guitar wizards Keith and Brad Paisley for the artist with the year’s most adventurous album.

Like Brad’s Wheelhouse, Fuse travels in exciting sonic territory, meshing Keith’s usual blend of pop and country with some R&B vocal touches and even some New Age-y sounds. Though it doesn’t tackle socially conscious issues as Brad’s did, Keith’s is every bit as groundbreaking.

“Heart Like Mine,” for instance, features a beautiful piano intro and a soulful vocal by Keith, who has never sounded better. Vocals seem much more prominent in the mix than on prior efforts, allowing Keith more room to sing.

Beatlesesque hand claps lend extra bounce to “She’s My 11” (the title a nod to Spinal Tap) while thumping drums and grinding guitars dominate “Good Thing.”

Especially notable is how several songs, including “Heart Like Mine,” build to almost symphonic crescendos.

But Fuse isn’t too sophisticated that it’ll blow over people’s heads. In addition to current hit “Little Bit of Everything,” the accessible “Somewhere in My Car” and “Red Camaro” seem destined for radioland.

Keith promised that Fuse would change things up, and he delivered.

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