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Urban planning

WANT TO GO?

Keith Urban, with Little Big Town and Dustin Lynch

WHERE: Charleston Civic Center

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday

TICKETS: $37.50 to $87.35

INFO: 800-745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com

_____CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- With only two shows left for the year, no one would blame Keith Urban if he just wanted to be done with it all and get back to his wife and kids in Nashville.

The New Zealand-born, Australian-raised country star, who performs Saturday at the Charleston Civic Center, has had a very busy year. Aside from the tour, which began over the summer, Urban released his eighth studio record, "Fuse." The record, which came out in September, already has two hit singles, "Little Bit of Everything" and "We Were Us," and is edging steadily toward gold status.

Urban also served as judge for season 12 of "American Idol." Plus there have been video shoots, charitable appearances, his wife Nicole Kidman's movie career, you name it.

Urban just laughed about it.

"Yeah, it's been a busy year, but a good year."

And he's not all that tired.

The Grammy Award winner said, "What's great about the way we tour is I go out for a few days and I come home. I go out; I come home. I'm really home a lot.

"Gone are the days when I'm away from home weeks, let alone months at a time. We just had a terrific Thanksgiving at home. So, I'm actually looking forward to playing."

The singer is especially proud of the songs on the new record. Recorded piecemeal all over the country, the album features solid country duets with Miranda Lambert and Eric Church, but it also includes collaborations with some very non-country music writers and producers like indie rocker Butch Walker, Norwegian dance music songwriters Mikkel Storleer Eriksen and Tor Erik Hermansen and rapper/writer/record producer Benny Blanco.

"I just wanted to experiment with some different people, create some different soundscapes around the songs," he said.

It all kind of starts and ends with the song, Urban said.

"Songs are great because you can just take them in so many directions," he said. "I thought, 'Well, let's work with some people we've never worked with before.' It all started with the writers and musicians, but obviously, the co-producers I'd never worked with. I was interested to see what I'd retain in the midst of all those collaborations."

Whatever else, the experience was fun. and his fans seem to like the results.

Urban is gentle with his fans and doesn't think of them as silly, even when he might have cause to. A little more than a week ago, the Internet was a-buzz about Urban cutting his hair. His long, sandy blond hair was his signature look, and Urban doesn't discount that -- but he really wanted to cut his hair.

"Getting it cut was something I wanted to do for ages," Urban said. "But I don't know, people are interested in whatever they're interested in. I knew my audience might be curious in general as to why I cut it off or whatever, but my want was to just get a picture out there immediately so people can get used to it and I can go back to playing music again."

He didn't want to shock anybody, though it still apparently did a little.

The good news is for anyone upset by the new 'do is that's really the only wardrobe change. He won't be trading in his t-shirts for a dress shirt and a tie.

"No," he laughed. "No ties."

With the very busy 2013 coming to a close, Urban is already looking at a very busy 2014. After the holidays, he'll pick the tour right back up and will be on the road off and on well into next summer. He'll also be returning to "American Idol," which starts season 13 in January.

Urban enjoys being on the show.

" I love the process; I love the discovery," he said. "Sitting in those rooms, going through 40-odd singers a day, and suddenly somebody comes out -- usually the most unexpected looking person -- they open up their mouths, just start singing and it's incredible."

Urban said during try-outs, the judges saw quite a few people like that.

He can also relate to the experience. Growing up in Australia, Urban competed on several of these talent shows.

"I spent the years between 9 and 12 in three different TV competitions as a performer," he said.

So, he has some insight to what it's like to be in that spotlight.

Urban said he was supposed to go to California in a week or two to tape part of the show but promised he'd get some time at home. First, though, he has the shows this weekend, and then he has another video to shoot.

"We're shooting a video this week for the next single," he said. "It's for 'Cop Car.'"

It's been a good year, he said, but very busy -- and it's not really over yet.

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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