Single Review: Keith Urban, “Without You”

Mr. Urban, you’re trying to trick me.

You’re giving me an achingly sincere vocal performance. You’re giving me a stripped down production that’s genuinely country, fiddle and all.   You’re giving me your life story, from the music to the marriage to the birth of your daughter.

It all adds up to so much goodness that you almost distracted me from the clunky and self-indulgent songwriting.  I can’t even give you a pass on that, because you didn’t write it.

You might have pulled it off if you’d held off on using the line, “Up until you came along, no one ever heard my song, now it’s climbing like a bullet,” until later on, maybe in one of those random breakdowns you like to do at the end to extend album versions from four minutes to twenty.

See, I love it when you get personal.  Remember “Song For Dad” and “You’re Not My God”?  Loved ‘em.  And “Thank You” was basically this song, done more artfully and in a more universally relevant way.

But “Without You” just feels too much like “Keith Urban sings about what it’s like to be in love with Nicole Kidman” to be interesting to me.  It might be an unfair criticism, given that’s what your life is all about these days and it’s made you blissfully happy, but it’s a boring song.

Maybe blissful happiness is hard to write about well when you’re not Rodney Crowell. Perhaps you should go back to covering him when you’re feeling this way?

Written by Dave Pahanish and Joe West

Grade: B-

Listen: Without You

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11 Comments

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11 Responses to Single Review: Keith Urban, “Without You”

  1. Not sure I’m sold on the lyrics either, but it is nice that Keith decided to lay off the drum machine for once.

  2. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    I agree. Great-sounding record, but I just don’t care about this part of his personal life – especially because it doesn’t feel universal in this case, but also because I don’t think he generally renders it interestingly to begin with. He’s brilliant at misery, and at optimism with the memory of misery, but somehow he just doesn’t do pure contentment and bliss very excitingly for me.

  3. TomNo Gravatar

    …i usually enjoy hearing keith urban songs more than listening to them – this one is no exeption. decent album cut, but questionable single.

  4. BobNo Gravatar

    “Without You” doesn’t do much for me. I don’t doubt the sincerity of his love for his wife and daughter but I’m not hearing an “achingly sincere” performance here. Although I got the cd for Christmas, I admit that I haven’t played all the songs yet and just listened to “Without You” for the first time and then played it again. Maybe it will grow on me.

  5. What in the world is going on with that cover art? It looks like Urban is holding on to someone’s dislocated or severed arm…

  6. grannaNo Gravatar

    Jonathan…on the actual CD, you can see that it’s a woman (Nicole) standing behind him. You just got a part of the picture here. Personally I love the song and the simplicity of it. I think there are some great songs on this CD.

  7. Matt BNo Gravatar

    To be fair to KU, the line “before you came along, no one ever heard my song, now it’s clinging with a bullet” is directly from Dave Pahanish’s life. He started getting success (Jimmy Wayne’s “Do You Believe Me Now”) around the time he met his wife who is the inspiration here.

  8. craig oNo Gravatar

    KU has always selected songs true to his life. This song holds to that virtue. It’s always refreshing to hear country songs about good relationships. There are plenty of other artists delivering the party and break-up crap.

  9. I’ve wanted Keith Urban to surprise us with something different for ages, and “Without You” is that song. The stripped down production (that’s actually country) perfectly suits his voice and I enjoy the sentiment here.

    While I am a tad tired of Keith’s first-class ticket on the love train, since he’s proven, with “Tonight I Wanna Cry,” that he is a contemporary master of heartache, I feel like he found the right balance here without going over the top.

    If you’re going to sing about being in love, this is the way to go. It’s the same balance Tim McGraw found in the late 90s on songs like “My Best Friend” – an ability to sing about happiness without cramming it down the listener’s throat.

    I’m kind of in awe of the production on this song – who knew he’d strip it down this much? It’s a very welcome change and goes back to the Keith Urban I (and so many others) fell in love with in the first place.

    Let it be a lesson to everyone – less is sometimes more. Keith is back in my good graces again. The lyrics, production, and vocal all mix to create a very enjoyable record. While this isn’t a revelation, it is a nice direction for Keith to go in.

    I’d give it an A-

  10. JimNo Gravatar

    While I don’t think it’s the best track on the CD, it’s very good. I believe “Right on Back to You” is a number one hit and one we’ll see released as the 4th or 5th single, IMHO. Nevertheless, this is a great track with well written lyrics by the author and an awesome arrangement which should make this a fast climber. As far as the entire collection goes…..I was a bit disappointed in only 8 tracks. However, all 8 tracks makes this one of my favorite releases of the year thus far. Classic KU all tthe way.

  11. jt chambersNo Gravatar

    i dont agree keith lionlel urban is a very good singer he is a beast