With “Fuse,” Keith Urban announced his desire to shake up his sound a bit, but longtime fans need have no fear. While the "American Idol" judge incorporates eight producers, including popmeisters Stargate and Butch Walker, and he plays beyond country’s confines on a few tracks, most tunes hew closely to what  the faithful have come to love: mid-tempo tunes anchored by banjo or guitar and Urban’s instantly recognizable vocals. The album is out today (10).

“Somewhere In My Car”: The first thing you hear on this mid-tempo wistful track is a banjo, a reassuring sign that as much as Urban has decided to stretch his musical legs a little, he’s not straying that far. The girl is long gone, but in his memory he can remember the feel of her lips on his, kissing in the car and the beautiful pain of a time gone by. A fuzzy guitar gives the otherwise soft song a harder edge.  GRADE: B

“Even The Stars Fall 4 U”: Opening with shouts of “Hey!” before going into an instantly catchy, exuberant love song, “Stars” combines country instrumentation with the most pop production Urban has ever gone for. It has the same multi-format smash appeal like Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me.” Country radio may want a slightly different mix, but given how pop country is leaning right now, probably not. If the label can wait this long, this could be a song of summer, 2014.  GRADE: A-

“Cop Car”: Urban takes a trip back in time as he remembers falling in love in police car after getting arresting for some youthful hijinks. The lyrics stretch for a meaning, but he’s going to lose plenty of folks when he talks about the siren lights reflecting in her eyes. Even as talented an artist as Urban can’t sell this line: “Something about the blue lights shining bringing out the freedom in your eyes.” Nice guitar solo, but that can’t save this song. I’d like to make a citizen’s arrest, please: GRADE: C-

“Shame”: Urban admits his foibles in this mid-tempo tale of skipping bill payments, missing birthdays, burning bridges, hurting lovers, and, basically, being human. “Everyone hurts the same,” he sings, and we all carry our scars around, even though we’re too scared to show them. Interesting lyrics, but may been better sequenced further down the record. GRADE: B-

“Good Thing”:  Forget “Sweet Thing,” Urban is more concerned about the moment as he woos a girl in a club in this bouncy track that’s more Dierks Bentley than Keith Urban. It’s a change of pace for Urban, but it’s a very well produced, fun, upbeat ditty. He promises if she gives him one chance, she’ll never be lonely again. Check out the Jerry Reed-like guitar solo. GRADE: B+

“We Were Us” (featuring Miranda Lambert): Lambert and Urban’s voices wind around each other effortlessly in this banjo-based mid-tempo about a couple who has split, but neither has let go. GRADE: B

“Love’s Poster Child”:  A slow, southern, swampy song that casts Urban as a man in need of a love infusion and he’s found just the woman to do it. Fans of Jason Aldean’s “She’s Country”  will love the feel of this one. Definitely a single. GRADE: A

“She’s My 11”: This uptempo declaration of love will have fans clapping along. The swaying song with a “whoa-oh-oh” sing-a-long features one of Urban’s best vocals.  GRADE: B


“Come Back To Me”: Probably the biggest stretch sonically on the album, “Come Back To Me” is built around a hypnotic electronic loop and a woozy guitar solo. Urban wants his love to come back, but she has already found someone new, so all he can hope for is that he treats her right. GRADE: A

“Red Camaro”: Another entry in the flirty, fun cars-and-girls song pantheon.  GRADE: B-

“Little Bit Of Everything”: The first single, and first No. 1, from “Fuse,” is as easy going as the song’s lyrics, which are about not “needing too much of nothing,” and being happy with life’s simple pleasures. Perfect song to usher out the summer with a very tasty guitar outro. GRADE: B

“Raise ‘Em Up” (featuring Eric Church): Melodically redolent of a slower “Someone Like You,” “Raise “Em Up” plays off the title, whether it be raising a glass or raising a kid. Church is way down in the mix. GRADE:  B-

“Heart Like Mine”: Album closer is a piano-based mid-tempo track with a strong melody, dramatic build and layered, pop backing vocals. The tale of     humility and love ends the project on a strong note and with a strong heartbeat. GRADE: B+