Keith Urban

Keith Urban

Photo courtesy of UMG Nashville

Keith Urban makes a bold swerve with his new single, aptly titled "Female," in which he not only dismantles the sensitive male ego but addresses sexual assault. "When you hear somebody say somebody hits like a girl, how does that hit you? Is that such a bad thing?" he sings on the first verse, opening up the conversation right out of the gate. He then turns his attention to women, tipping his hat to Beyonce's smash hit "Girls (Run the World)," as he ponders: "When you hear a song that plays saying you run the world, do you believe it? Will you live to see it?"

With the chorus, Urban unravels a long sequence of strong female roles. "Sister, shoulder, daughter, lover, healer, broken halo, mother, nature, fire, suit of armor, soul survivor, holy water, secret keeper, fortune teller, Virgin Mary, scarlet letter, technicolor, river wild, baby girl, woman child...female," he sings, situating the track as universal but incredibly raw and personal. Written by Nashville heavy weights Shane McAnally (Sam Hunt, Kacey Musgraves), Nicolle Galyon (Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum) and Ross Copperman (Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney), the sweeping mid-tempo captures the current heightened sense of tension and unease, glossed with smoldering guitar and tender drum machine. Urban then goes one step further, cutting to the song's core message, crooning, "She's the heart of life / She's the dreamer's dream / She's the hands of time / She's the queen of kings."

Urban later peels back the layers of the stigma surrounding sexual assault, a rather fearless move given the conservative nature of country radio. "When somebody laughs and implies 'she asked for it,' just 'cause she was wearing a skirt ⎯⎯ ah, is that how that works? When somebody talks about how it was Adam first, does that make you second best? Or did he save the best for last?"

Urban is expected to take the stage during tonight's (Nov. 8) CMA Awards. He is up for several accolades, including Male Vocalist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year. The show goes live at 8/7c with Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood returning for the landmark 10th year of co-hosting. Stay tuned to AXS.com for all your awards show coverage.

Listen to "Female" below: