When Keith Urban released “We Were Us”, the Miranda Lambert duet, as a single, I was bummed. Not because I dislike that song. It actually is a fairly decent tune. But, I didn’t think that Keith would release two duets from Fuse, and “Raise 'Em Up” was the highlight of the album. Thankfully, Keith proved me wrong and released this as his new radio single. “Raise 'Em Up” is a really cool track that is bound to be a big hit with fans and critics alike. With two of the biggest names in country music on a well-written song, how could you go wrong?
Keith Urban has always peppered his feel-good summery jams with meaty songs here and there. “Stupid Boy”, “Tonight I Wanna Cry”, “Till Summer Comes Around”, and “But For The Grace of God” are all heavier than your average song. “Raise 'Em Up” is not quite up to par emotionally with those songs, but it is in the same ballpark. The song looks at various scenarios of raising, whether its glasses for a toast, eyes to the sky, or children, it’s time to “raise 'em up”. There isn’t much of a story, it’s all pretty generic, but that’s the only minor criticism. The journey through different stages of everyone’s life through the concept of raising up is interesting and relevant. It focuses on many different moments in one's life, so that young and old can find something that hits home for them individually. It isn’t going to change the world, but it is a song that makes you stop, listen, and go “huh.” That’s all you can really ask.
The song has a mellow, easy-going vibe throughout the whole thing. The song drives, but not in an obnoxious or overbearing way. There is sparse arrangement and a light melody that allow the words to do the talking, not the beat. Of course, we haven’t talked about the other guy on the song. Eric Church guests on this recording and trades verses back and forth with Keith. There isn’t much story, as I said before, so a partner isn’t necessarily required for this song. Keith could easily perform it in concert sans Church and be fine. But, Eric still brings something to the table. They have a similar range of vocals, and really sound a little alike, but Eric brings an attitude, an aura, that makes the song stand out. Whether it is a soft, smooth song or a hard rocker, Eric sings with incredible intensity. He always sounds borderline pissed off, even in a happy song. That gusto really pushes the song forward. Keith does a great job, but he doesn’t have that grit that Eric does. By sprinkling it throughout the song, you have two voices that have similar tones, but very different deliveries that make a great juxtaposition throughout the song.
I think this song is a no-brainer hit. Both Keith Urban and Eric Church are big stars who seem to stay on the good side of both pop and classic country fans. Eric gets credit for his devotion to art, and Keith for his charitable efforts to keep country music history alive by supporting the Country Music Hall of Fame. “Raise 'Em Up” should be pretty far-reaching, as traditionalists shouldn’t find anything to pick apart, while the simplicity and style of the song makes it attractive to the mainstream fans. This isn’t Song of the Year material, but it is big number one hit material. We need more songs like this. They all can’t change the world. Hopefully we see it “raise up” the charts and please a lot of fans.