Keith Urban's most sonically adventurous album yet, Ripcord is out today. The musician recorded about 35 songs for the project and narrowed them down to 13 in a rather unique way.
"In the end, I went, 'OK, I'm going to approach it like a gig,'" he tells Rolling Stone Country. "I'm going to do a set list: Here's the song I want to start with, here's the song in the middle, here's the song I want to end with. I just sequenced them like a show, and then it was done."
Ripcord's list of credits has names from several genres of music, leading to its melting pot of sound. But he didn't look too far for a duet partner on the R&B-leaning song, "The Fighter," calling in longtime friend and fellow Nashvillian Carrie Underwood.
"I love her voice; she's incredible," gushes Urban.
On the other end of the Ripcord spectrum is Pitbull, who offers a rap interlude on the Urban-Nile Rodgers collaboration, "Sun Don't Let Me Down." Urban says adding the hip-hop superstar to the tune was all about his unique musical vibe.
"I heard Pitbull come on the radio one day, and I thought, man, I've always loved that guy's tone," recalls the singer. "He has such a mischievous tone in his voice, unlike anyone else. And it was immediate thing: he'd be so good on that song. . . lyrically, thematically, it's so in his zone.
"I wanted his sound and his rhythm. It wasn't about having a rapper on there," Urban continues. "And if Pitbull didn't respond to the track, we would've just left it the way it was. It wasn't like I was going to find another rapper. I just wanted him!"
Urban will hit the road in June for shows in support of Ripcord. Maren Morris and Brett Eldredge are also along for the ride.
Read our full interview with Urban about the making of Ripcord here.