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How Keith Urban’s ‘The Speed of Now Part 1′ Transformed During the Pandemic

Jason Kempin, Getty Images

Keith Urban‘s The Speed of Now Part 1 might have been an entirely different album if it was not for the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As the singer tells it, the effort got an overhaul due to the resultant downtime.

Urban’s upcoming 11th studio effort was all but complete before the health crisis brought the music world to a halt starting in March. However, once the lockdown hit, the downtime provided the superstar with an altogether different type of muse — one that elicited several fresh additions to the album.

“It was mostly done,” Urban tells Variety. “Basically I was just finishing mixes, but then suddenly found that I’ve got a bit of extra unexpected time to keep writing. And I actually ended up writing several new songs, which pushed out some existing songs I had. I think it made the record a little more cohesive.”

But that doesn’t mean the work was easy. On writing unaccompanied, the singer remembers that he “wasn’t very excited to sit in front of my laptop with an acoustic guitar and keep playing a bunch of songs.” But once he got over the hump, a renewed sense of creativity sent a shock through the album.

“I was quite artistically paralyzed for the first part of lockdown,” Urban admits. “I’m engaged with people everywhere, and all of a sudden that stops. And I’m like, what the hell? There’s no touring. There’s no going to other studios. There’s no collaborating with people. And I didn’t know what to do, honestly.”

“I just didn’t want to do anything for a good few weeks,” he continues, “And I slowly came down into my studio and recorded … and slowly got back on the horse. And once I did, it was almost like a whole new drive to create came out of that. But it definitely didn’t start out that way.”

The Speed of Now Part 1 arrives Sept. 18 via Capitol Records Nashville. So far, Urban’s released several singles from the album such as “Superman,” “We Were” and “God Whispered Your Name.”

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