Having finished his run as an American Idol judge, Keith Urban leaps into Ripcord, the most eclectic, genre-spanning album of his career. With 10 producers involved, Ripcord is a hodgepodge of musical directions.
Singing with renewed vigour and range, the New Zealand-born country singer sounds best when leaning on old-school R&B. He brings a soulful touch to Break on Me and his duet with Carrie Underwood on The Fighter sounds like a modern update of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. The organ and single-note guitar on Blue Ain’t Your Color follows Chris Stapleton into a contemporary style of country blues.
Elsewhere, Urban strains to fit into a hip sound. The hit Gettin’ in the Way is a clever song about desire, but the generic group choruses dampen the joy.
He stands his ground with Pitbull on the hip-hop lite of Sun Don’t Let Me Down, but it sounds more like an exercise than a celebration. An experimental approach is commendable for a veteran artist. Despite the uneven results, Ripcord pays off more often than not.
Source: art & life