There were two highly anticipated country albums released on May 6, 2016: Keith Urban’s Ripcord and Cole Swindell’s You Should Be Here. Urban is well established in country circles, releasing his debut album back in 1997 (The Ranch). As far as Swindell is concerned, he’s the “new kid on the block” as You Should Be Here is his sophomore album.
So, with the aforementioned information considered, it’s not possible for two male country artists to release albums on the same day and there be no competition. Besides, what would life be like without healthy competition, right? Right. So, after hearing both albums, one clearly MUST trump the other! Who wins the head to head between Keith Urban and Cole Swindell?
Let’s just say that it’s good to be…DRUM ROLL PLEASE… KEITH URBAN. Yes, Keith Urban’s Ripcord bests Cole Swindell’s You Should Be Here. Here’s the deal. Swindell plays truer to country music on You Should Be Here, which may play better to more traditional country music listeners. Still, to call Cole Swindell a traditionalist would be a massive overstatement. Contextually, You Should Be Here is the safer album.
Those who don’t mind stretching their ears will appreciate and enjoy Keith Urban’s Ripcord better. While Urban takes lots of liberties throughout the album, it’s more exciting than Swindell’s by a mile. That’s not to write off You Should Be Here, but the album simply has one too many ballads – actually more than one – and too few times lacks that rousing “oomph” to take it to the next level. Even if Ripcord failed to rouse vocally in regards to Urban’s performance, he has brilliant, eclectic music backgrounds to make up for the slack.
When it’s all said and done, Keith Urban wins. Not only is he more experienced – he’s 48 and Swindell is 32 – he’s already defined himself as an artist and is at the stage of reinvention as opposed to ‘invention.’ Swindell still seems to be searching for his niche and distinctive personality. Save for fun songs like “Flatliner” featuring Dierks Bentley and “No Can Left Behind” and excellent ballad “You Should Be Here,” the verdict is still out on Cole Swindell artistically speaking, platinum debut album or not.