It’s interesting to know what country fans will ask their favorite artists when left to their own devices.
There were plenty of those — fans, devices and fans using devices — at Houston Station Nashville on Monday (April 23) for an intimate Q&A and jam with Keith Urban to ring in the release week for his latest album, Graffiti U.
The event was part of a Spotify Fans First initiative and hosted just over 150 loyal Urban fans; giving them the rare opportunity to ask him whatever they wanted in the time they had together (much like his meet-and-greet sessions on previous tours). Primarily, it was a night of Urban live in his own words.
Some wanted to know what songs on Graffiti U were his favorites (the ones between the beginning and the end), the inspiration behind the album’s title and whether any songs were inspired by his wife and Oscar winner, Nicole Kidman.
She was there, too, and at least once while he was talking about certain songs on the album, she shouted, “Play it!” Before he launched into “Parallel Line,” he invited her onstage to join his performance.
When asked which line on the entire Graffiti U album best reflected the man behind the music, he said that it was hard to pick just one. But it would have to be the chorus in the Julia Michaels duet, “Coming Home,” because it reminds him of the homesickness he felt for his family Down Under when he was a new artist searching for his big break in Nashville.
“For me, a lot of the time the music tells the story or draws the story out versus the other way around,” he said. “So the music comes first, and then the melody comes and then the story comes.
“I came to Nashville 26 years ago, and it’s where my dreams were, where I wanted to live and where I wanted to be. And I didn’t want to run home, but it was getting hard here like it does for a lot of new artists, and you just want to go home and be around people who know the real you and can love you back to life.
“That feeling has stayed with me, so this song became very personal for that. And then it’s also very universal. I think a lot of us who now live in Nashville are from somewhere else. Something has brought us here, and while we love being here, we want to touch base with home a lot of the time.”
Urban’s set included “Female,” “Parallel Line” and “Raining on Sunday.” Aligning with the graffiti theme, fans were also able to explore an art installation that featured murals inspired by songs from the album. The displays were created by local street artists Nathan Brown, Ty Christian, Brian Wooden, Eric “Mobe” Bass and Aaron Martin.
“The last two albums were very energy based, so I chose Fuse and Ripord because they had a good-energy feel to them. But this record felt freer artistically. The studio for me is a blank canvas … The word ‘graffiti’ came to me because I thought it felt like what the [album-making] process was like for me … And the ‘U’ was the audience, the listener. So, Graffiti U is this inclusive experience for us. And it’s the first letter of my last name. It’s really personalized, and that’s how the album became Graffiti U.”
The day after Friday’s (April 27) album release, Urban will headline the Stagecoach music festival in Indio, Calif. on Saturday (April 28).