When Richie Sambora and Orianthi release their album of vocal and guitar-driven duets later this year, a handful of country songs will dot the track list. Orianthi broke the news to Rolling Stone Country Tuesday evening, an hour or so before trading solos with Billy Gibbons during a Skyville Live event honoring the ZZ Top frontman.
"I'm a big country fan," said the songwriter, who recorded her most recent record, Heaven in This Hell, at Nashville's Blackbird Studio. "One of the first country artists I got to work with was Carrie Underwood at the Grammy Awards. The great thing about country songs is the storytelling. They're really moving and well-crafted, and that's something Richie and I wanted to explore."
A couple since late 2013, when they crossed paths at a New Years Eve party hosted by Alice Cooper, Sambora and Orianthi share the spotlight on the still-untitled album.
"There are songs where I'm just singing and he's backing me up, and vice versa, and songs where we're singing together," Orianthi adds. "It really takes you on a journey, and there's a great blend to our voices."
Produced by Bob Rock, who previously worked with Sambora on Bon Jovi records including Slippery When Wet and Keep the Faith, the album was recorded across the globe, with sessions taking place in Vancouver, the couple's own home, the Capitol Records building and even Steven Tyler's beachside residence in Hawaii. An official release date has yet to be announced, although Orianthi says the first single could arrive as early as next month.