Songwriters: Preston Brust, Chris Lucas, Jaren Johnston
Keith Urban has rarely been one to offer surprises these days. But what he has been able to do with recent single releases (excluding the disposable “Without You”) is to offer vintage Urban material that just barely avoids carrying a retreaded feel.
“You Gonna Fly” retains many familiar features of a Keith Urban hit – an uplifting melody, guitar shredding, along with a slick pop-centric arrangement with flourishes of country instrumentation – yet it also brings infectious instrumental hooks that ring fresh and original, showcasing Urban’s formidable prowess with just about any instrument his hand finds.
Opening verses about driving in a truck with “windows rolled down and the radio loud” aren’t particularly interesting, but the chorus is where the song begins picking up steam. His significant other is metaphorically compared to “a black bird on a country street, hidin’ from the world with a broken wing,” and to “a songbird from New Orleans, scared of the rain ‘case you’re scared to sing.” In each case, Urban assures her “You gonna fly with me.” Such lyrics might seem rudimentary if not for the spirited performance, but Keith’s energetic delivery brings the song fully to life. “Fly” doesn’t reach quite the same level of coy catchiness as predecessor “Long Home Summer,” but fortunately, it also avoids the mushy-mushy cheese factor in puppy love ditties like “Sweet Thing” and “Kiss a Girl.” But mainly, Urban pulls it off through the way he flat-out owns the song and style, making it sound perfectly natural. He sounds like he’s in his element, and having the time of his life, but it still comes across as an effort that’s focused instead of merely frivolous.
“You Gonna Fly” is unlikely to win over country genre purists dismissive of Urban’s polished contemporary sound. But what it does do is follow a tried-and-true template while offering just enough variation to continually hold our interest. Better yet, it avoids sounding too deliberately contrived, flowing naturally enough to impart a breath of personality into the stale radio atmosphere.