It’s a tough time for a lot of people: bad economy, some folks in Nashville are still piecing their lives back together six months after a major flood.
But it’s good times for some, including Keith Urban, who was the subject of a party at Music City’s Hard Rock Café on Monday. It served a dual purpose: It allowed Capitol Records to present him a platinum award for selling a million copies of his last album, Defying Gravity. It also celebrates the release of his next album, Get Closer.
You can be sure that Keith is aware of — and sensitive to — the hard times others have experienced. Those floods in May bordered the Hard Rock — the same place they held the party — and Keith showed up in a lot of places to help raise money for water-logged victims in the past six months. He’s also aware of the tough financial times. They’ve hit the music business with a vengeance, and Capitol’s parent company, EMI, just went through a difficult lawsuit in New York from a financier who was unhappy with the way his investment worked out.
In the middle of all that, Get Closer is the first release in a new deal between Keith and Capitol, two business partners who are clearly happy with each other.
“It’s really cool to still be there, and to see so many familiar faces, too, is gratifying,” said Keith, who’s been affiliated with the label for 13 years. “I went around the offices a few weeks ago, and to see so many people still there that’s been there as long as I have — and longer than me — is really touching and symbolic of the kind of label I think Capitol is. And given the whole landscape of everything that’s going on in the music business, even with the parent company, it’s incredible to see the strength of Capitol Nashville. So I’m very very proud to be part of it.”
Keith ripped into a three-song set for the event with a stripped-down band: drummer Chris McHugh, bass player Jerry Flowers and acoustic guitarist Dann Huff, Keith’s producer. The set included two songs from Get Closer — the now-familiar “Put You In A Song” and a sensitive, personal ode to family life, “Without You” — plus “Walkin’ The Country,” a song from his days with The Ranch that included a seering, extended guitar solo.
It was likely a good warm-up for his afternoon warm-up. Keith had rehearsals set later Monday for Wednesday’s 44th annual Country Music Association Awards at the Bridgestone Arena, just blocks away from the Hard Rock. He’s up for Entertainer of the Year at the show, competing against Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert, the Zac Brown Band and Lady Antebellum.