Album cover artwork for Keith Urban The Speed Of Now Part 1Some beats, then some banjo. So starts Keith Urban’s most musically adventurous outing yet, a thrilling mix of new meets old.

The opening track, Out The Cage, could be a lockdown anthem, though it might also be about the solitude of the studio. “I miss my friends, I miss the sky,” Urban sings. It also shows his defiance, declaring: “I won’t let nobody own me.”

The Queenslander has been single-minded since starting out on his country road since the early ’90s. After slogging it out in Nashville, he’s now one of the biggest stars Australia has produced, notching up seven Top 10 albums in the US, including two chart-toppers. Urban’s success is no accident, as he crafts classic country pop. As he sings here: “Now you’re caught up in my head, like a melody of the sweetest summer song that we used to sing.”

On his 11th studio album, you sense that Urban can’t quite work out whether he’s a good ol’ boy or a contemporary pop act. It could have been an uneasy mix, but somehow it works. There’s a surprise around every corner (including a duet with Pink), and the record ends with the modern country classic We Were, which even includes a shout-out to Def Leppard. “I am who I am,” Urban concludes.

The Speed Of Now Part 1 by Keith Urban is out Friday September 18 via Universal.

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