Keith Urban will spend most of his summer months on the road, kicking off a 58-date North American tour in mid-June. Appropriately, his newest single – the processed, pop-inspired “Coming Home” – shines a light on the revitalizing process of heading back to a place you reluctantly left.
“I gotta get back now to the ones who love me,” he sings during the song’s chorus, backed by programmed drums and a looped banjo riff. Like the songs on 2016’s Ripcord, “Coming Home” finds equal room for organic instruments and digital elements, creating a blend of twang and technology. It’s a modern, mainstream-minded pop anthem – the sort of song that’s better suited to arenas than honky-tonks.
Even so, “Coming Home” wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Merle Haggard, whose influence can be heard in the song’s first cluster of notes. A revised version of the “Mama Tried” guitar riff frames the song, its notes twisted and textured to suit Urban’s new direction. Haggard even receives co-writing credit, sharing that role with Urban, co-producer J.R. Rotem, guest singer Julia Michaels and Nicolle Galyon.
“Hearing that rolling Haggard guitar lick sparked memories of my childhood, and my dream to come to America,” Urban explained in a statement. “I knew right then the story [of the song] was about the struggles of being in a city where your dreams have brought you, but far from your home – wherever, whomever and whatever that is for each of us.”
Also adding her own firepower to the song’s poppy punch is solo artist Julia Michaels, who sings a verse during the song’s final stretch. “I know it’s only one call away, but it’s not the same,” she sings, playing the role of a lonely partner waiting for her lover’s return. Although not as collaborative a duet as, say, the Carrie Underwood-filled “Fighter,” “Coming Home” still turns a new page for Urban, pairing him with an artist from far outside the country realm.
“Coming Home” is the latest sampling of Urban’s upcoming Graffiti U, which has yet to receive a release date.