Entertainment, On A High Note

S&EN is listening to Keith Urban’s “Ripcord”

On Monday, Keith Urban introduced fans to his latest album, “Ripcord,” in a live concert outside Bridgestone Arena, hours prior to the Predators’ win in Game 6 of the NHL Western Conference series against the San Jose Sharks.

Urban said that “Ripcord” was his most exhilarating album to make, both musically and creatively. “The album took me to a lot of unexplored people and places.”

The cover of Urban's new album, "Ripcord." PHOTO COURTESY KEITH URBAN

The cover of Urban’s new album, “Ripcord.” PHOTO COURTESY UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP/CAPITOL

“Ripcord” impresses with an array of musical styles and treatments—the result of Urban’s work with an eclectic group of Grammy, CMA and ACM Award-winning writers and producers. These producers and writers have also contributed to such entertainers as Adele, Jason Aldean, David Bowie, Luke Bryan, Kelly Clarkson, Brett Eldredge, Fun, Lady Gaga, Jay Z, Madonna, Daft Punk, Pink and Taylor Swift. “Ripcord” includes Urban’s new collaborations with Jeff Bhasker, busbee, Greg Wells and Nile Rodgers. It also includes artists whom Urban has worked with before, including Shane McAnally, Ross Copperman, Dann Huff and Nathan Chapman—all of whom worked with Urban on his previous No. 1 album “Fuse.”

“Getting to work with people like this was unlike anything I’ve envisioned before,” said Urban. “It’s the result of writing, reaching, imagining and following the muse every step of the way.”

The latest in a line of work that has secured Urban’s success as a solid musical entertainer, “Ripcord” has two cuts that have reached No. 1 (“John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” and “Break on Me”). Most of “Ripcord” is well suited for live shows or for drive-time radio airplay, with a few slower ones that people are sure to fall in love with. We would rate each long-awaited track as at least four out of five stars:

“Gone Tomorrow (Here Today)” — cut featuring Urban’s banjo and the usual layered guitars to back a soaring, hit-destined chorus.

“John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” — snappy and melodic all the way, definite country radio fare.

“Wasted Time” — a timely song about the pleasures of wasting time on back roads in the summer sun. The opening and verses feature a vibrating synth and Urban’s vocal. The country-rock, toe-tapping chorus and guitars are typical fare, but the song ends with Urban’s trademark banjo plucking over some campfire-style hollering that make it a winner.

“Habit of You”— a more traditional ballad that allows Urban to reach his higher vocal range.

“Sun Don’t Let Me Down” — (featuring Nile Rodgers and Pitbull)—another pop/R&B/dance collaboration, with rapping in the middle. There’s hardly a trace of country music in this scorcher, from the opening vocals to the scratchy guitars in the closing.

“Gettin’ In The Way”—a blend of contemporary country vocals with slick pop/rock backing.

“Blue Ain’t Your Color” — another ballad, aimed at the women (“Blue looks good on the sky . . . but darlin’, it’s gone out your eyes”), sung mainly over programmed synth and distant drums.

The massive crowd that formed outside of Bridgestone Arena for Urban's free concert this past Monday. PHOTO COURTESY BRIDGESTONE ARENA

The massive crowd that formed outside of Bridgestone Arena for Urban’s free concert this past Monday. PHOTO COURTESY BRIDGESTONE ARENA

“The Fighter” (featuring Carrie Underwood) —a contemporary dance pop song, which ought to become a standard in clubs. The two trade vocals and the sound are dominated by programmed snap drums over a heavy synth bed.

“Break on Me”— love song that includes some poetic lyrics.

“Boy Gets a Truck” — a mid-tempo, sensitive filler that speaks to the circle of life in the way a country song would.

“Your Body” — a song where guitars and a melodic chorus offer a counterpoint to the heavy keyboard that dominates the track.

“That Could Still Be Us” — a piano-based ballad showcasing Urban’s vocals that is sure to make for the best of quiet moments in live performances.

“Worry ‘Bout Nothin’”— an album-closer that features the usual Urban keyboard and layered guitar tracks.

Keith Urban launches his ripCORD World Tour 2016 with Brett Eldredge and special guest Maren Morris on June 2 in Kansas City. He will play more than 50 shows in amphitheaters and arenas through the United States. For more information visit his official website.