With 7 albums, 22 singles, 1 DVD, and millions of fans, it’s no surprise that we have all followed the growth of Dierks Bentley over the last eleven years. We’ve witnessed him as he took the polar plunge, we’ve seen Jake grow up, and we’ve been there as his bus hit one million miles. One thing that even I wasn’t expecting from Dierks was the 7th studio release to be his best to date.
Riser has been in the works for almost three years and through that time Dierks has been through a lot of growth in his personal life that reflects in the music. Over the last few years he’s been touched by the loss of his father, birth of his son Knox, and national events such as the Sandy Hook shooting. Those events have led to some of the most real and stripped down versions of Dierks that we have heard. Over the last few years, Dierks has also been out on tour playing massive shows, so we can’t forget that Dierks also likes to have a little fun, which is also shown in a few tracks on the album.
The album starts out with a little heartbreak with the single ‘Bourbon in Kentucky’ as well as ‘Say You Do’. ‘Bourbon’ was the lowest charting single of Dierks’ career, but the song brings a sound that we’ve never heard from Dierks before. It is the ultimate story of a broken heart “there ain’t enough/Bottles I could drink/To make ’em feel as empty as I do.” The later of begins with an acoustic track and ends with full instrumentation as the emotions fill the song. It’s a tale of the classic breakup that you just can’t get off your mind. You just simply need to hear a voice.
Track #3 is the current single, ‘I Hold On’. A testament to how Dierks lives his life, the truth in the lyrics has hit a string with fans and new listeners alike. Whether it be his truck that he’s had for 20 years, his dog Jake that’s been around since the first album, or the guitar that he had during his move to Nashville, Dierks simply holds on in this hit. Another song that is true to Dierks has been ‘Damn these Dreams’. Probably the most personal song to the singer has also been a favorite among early listeners. Written about losing time with his family while out on the road, the emotion brought forth through Dierks with the acoustic baking makes it a track you’ll want to hear more of.
A Dierks Bentley album wouldn’t be true without a feel good party song such as ‘Pretty Girls’ or ‘Drunk on a Plane’. Fans may have previously heard the song ‘Back Porch’ on an EP released last year. The three just show that Dierks knows how to have a good time whether on a back porch, 10,000 feet above the ground, or at a show. While we might still be stuck in the cold of winter, ‘Sounds of Summer’ brings the warmth. The track is sure to be a summer favorite while on tour.
‘Here On Earth’ is the search for higher power, as was needed during the Sandy Hook shootings. The song which can also be viewed as a prayer for forgiveness tells the trials and tribulations of faith. Although he may not be the best believer, he knows that ‘there ain’t no answer here on earth’. While ‘Here On Earth’ has him searching for religious freedom, the namesake of the album shows fans who he really is as a ‘Riser’.
“I’m a riser/I’m a get off of the ground, old running hider/Push and comes to shove/Hey, I’m a fighter/Darkness comes to town, I’m a lighter/But get out aliver, out of the fire/Survivor”
The album closes with ‘Hurt Somebody,’ a track previously recorded by the short-lived band The Dirt Drifters. It’s about the girl that everyone knows is a heartbreaker, but they just can’t get enough. “Girl you’re gonna hurt somebody/make somebody bleed/God you’re gonna hurt somebody/and I hope it’s me.” You would never know that the song wasn’t written for Dierks as it is a perfect match with his music and sound.
Overall Grade: “A” – So many times after being around for over a decade, an artist will lose who they are. With this project, Dierks pleases those that have been following him since ‘What Was I Thinking’ as well as the next generation of fans in which this is their first Dierks experience. I can’t wait to see how Dierks follows this up…we’ll need to wait a few years for that, though!
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