Keith Urban says that his new album, "Defying Gravity," represents a prolific period that followed his last release, 2006's double-platinum "Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing."
"I felt a lot of clarity in making this record," Urban, who co-produced his fifth studio album with Dan Huff, tells Billboard.com. "I was just ready to go in and make great music. It had been two years since I did 'Love, Pain & the Whole Cray Thing,' and since that record we toured so much, and I came into a phase where I was just writing a lot of music.
"It was a real creative time, and I was just anxious to get in the studio and try to capture it all."
Urban's first attempt to do that didn't go well, however. He hit the studio in the middle of 2008 for some "preliminary recording" but acknowledges that "none of that stuff really ended up on the record." But, Urban adds, he wasn't worried about it.
"I just don't like doing demos, I think," he explains. "I'm not trying to recapture magic; I like to create a song in a much more organic process. I like to keep everything very spontaneous, and I think it's a much stronger record because of that approach."
"Defying Gravity" is certainly off to a strong start. The album's first single, "Sweet Thing," made a fast dash to the top of the Hot Country Songs chart -- his third No. 1 in the past 12 months. A second single, "Kiss a Girl," is also in the Top 20, and Urban did double duty at this year's Grammy Awards, performing with Al Green and Justin Timberlake and then as part of a Bo Diddley tribute with B.B. King, Buddy Guy and John Mayer. Urban is also up for three Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday, including Entertainer of the Year.
Urban plays a trio of small-venue shows to launch "Defying Gravity" starting Monday in Chicago. He kicks off a tour to support "Defying Gravity" on May 7 in Uncasville, Conn.
"I think (the tour is) going to be a blast," Urban says, "particularly because I'm going to put a lot of songs from this album into the set because it's a predominantly uptempo record, which makes for a great live show. And hopefully we'll try to up the production. I'm always trying for more connectiveness with the audience. I'm trying to get down among the audience and have them feel like they're part of the thing, and to keep it spontaneous every night because everybody tends to like surprises. That's my job."