From the opening banjo strums of “Gone Tomorrow (Here Today),” it's apparent that Keith Urban’s Ripcord is an album different than anything he’s ever released, including his previous project, FUSE. The lead-off track blends banjos, percussive beats and synths into a cohesive track that can only be described as uniquely Keith Urban, circa 2016.
Always an artist willing to expand the definitions of country music, Keith routinely does so with Ripcord. From “Sun Don’t Let Me Down,” the track written with Pitbull and Nile Rodgers to the hits “Break On Me” (with it’s 80s synth/pop harmonies) and “Wasted Time” (more 80s-inspired melodies) to the fantastic track featuring Carrie Underwood, “The Fighter,” a song which screams for some Avicii or SeeB pop/dance radio remix. As for stuff that longtime Keith Urban fans can rest their hats on, “Boy Gets A Truck, “Gettin’ In The Way” and “Worry ‘Bout Nothin’” are sure to be favorites.
There are a plethora of hits to be found on this record — and to be sure at the release of the album “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” and “Break On Me” are already #1 hits — and Keith Urban could easily go six or seven singles deep. There could (and probably should) be a multi-radio format approach for singles. Absolute must-release singles include “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” a smoldering jam that recalls the best of old school soul and is one of — if not the — best vocals in the history of Keith Urban’s career. “Boy Gets A Truck” grabs an epic U2-like melody and does’t let go for 3:30 minutes of pure musical bliss. It may not say stuff that hasn’t been said before but it’s a stone cold smash hit in waiting. Same with “The Fighter” and I’d be outright shocked if that one doesn’t become the best-selling, most-streamed single from this album and not just because the great Carrie Underwood sings on it. It’d be great with any female vocalist singing that part but Carrie does absolutely nail the record.
I haven’t been grooving and jamming to an album the way I have Ripcord and I’m of the firm belief that this is exactly what Keith Urban tries to get people to do with each album he releases. This one is a cohesive recording from start to finish and isn’t a record that’s just a few singles with filler wrapped around it. I can see Ripcord becoming an award-winning project and at a time when artists of Keith Urban’s stature could just make the same record over and over and get people to buy and play their records, Urban strives to constantly make new, interesting records.