Dierks Bentley - 'Riser'

Dierks Bentley's ninth studio album, Riser, was released on 25th February in the US and 4th March internationally. Dierks has written six out of the albums twelve tracks, including second single I Hold On. Riser has topped the Billboard Top Country Album chart as well as charting at number five on the Billboard Canadian Album chart and at number six on the Billboard 200 chart.
The album's lead single Bourbon In Kentucky features backing vocals from Kacey Musgraves. The opening electric guitar chord and driving acoustic guitar accompaniment gives the track a slight 'dark' feel and Dierks deep vocals combine well with Kacey to produce a really well rounded track. The instrumentalisation builds nicely throughout the track but also doesn't overpower either vocalist. I do sincerely think it is shame that this song didn't chart higher for Dierks (the peak position was fortieth on Hot Country Songs chart).
The poor chart success of Bourbon In Kentucky prompted a slight rethink as a 'lighter' feel was added to the album and I Hold On was released as the next single. Lyrically, I Hold On is really strong and draws the listener in to what is obviously a personal song to Dierks. This was the first song Dierks wrote after the death of his father and was inspired by the old pick-up truck that he and his dad had driven to Nashville years ago. With lyrics such as "what they don't know is my dad and me we drove her out to Tennessee, and she's still here now he's gone" and "like the stripes to the flag, like a boy to his dad....I hold on" the track travels through a lot of really strong images and leaves the listener feeling thoughtful when it finishes.

The acoustic Damn These Dreams is the point where Dierks' vocals are undoubtedly at their most heartfelt and emotive. Dierks has been vocal in the fact that this highly personal song almost didn't make the record but I'm certainly glad it did. The track opens with acoustic guitar bass line and vocals with occasional backing vocals and it is not until just over halfway through the track that this changes with the introduction of a soaring electric guitar hook and banjo accompaniment. 

In complete contrast to Damn These DreamsSounds Of Summer is another great track. The track as a whole could easily be a cut for Jake Owen but it also really suits Dierks. Similar to the idea of lots of different images that is used in I Hold On, lines such as "boots climbing barbed wire, a little spot nobody goes" and "these are the sounds going down in a nowhere town underneath the wide open sky" combine well with the production to give the track an overall summery, light feel. The chorus is led by the drums (which don't overpower) and the military style snare drum playing that is used at various points throughout the track works well. Listeners will also be able to pick out electric guitar, acoustic guitar and hand claps amongst other instrumentalisation.

Whilst the album is overall very strong, I do feel like Back Porch doesn't quite fit. The track is included straight after Damn These Dreams and the production difference is striking. Lyrically there isn't really any depth and the two verses are only around thirty seconds each which means that the main focus is on a chorus full of lyrics such as "no last call, let's party on the back porch". I will say that the production is very catchy but in my opinion there are far better songs on the album than this.

Track listing....
1) Bourbon In Kentucky (featuring Kacey Musgraves) - Hillary Lindsey, Gordie Sampson, Ryan Tyndell
2) Say You Do - Shane McAnally, Matt Ramsey, Trevor Rosen
3) I Hold On  - Dierks Bentley, Brett James
4) Pretty Girls - Dierks Bentley, Jon Randall, Jessi Alexander
5) Here On Earth - Dierks Bentley, Ryan Tyndell, Ross Copperman
6) Drunk On A Plane - Dierks Bentley, Chris Tompkins, Josh Kear
7) Five - Dierks Bentley, Ryan Tyndell, Ross Copperman
8) Riser - Travis Meadows, Steve Moakler
9) Sounds Of Summer - Zach Crowell, Matt Jenkins, Adam Sanders
10) Damn These Dreams - Dierks Bentley, Ross Copperman, Jaren Johnston
11) Back Porch - Hillary Lindsey, Cary Barlowe, Jaren Johnston
12) Hurt Somebody (featuring Chris Stapleton) - Shane McAnally, Mark Nesler, Matt Fleener

Recommend tracks....Damn These Dreams, Sounds Of Summer, Bourbon In Kentucky, Hurt Somebody
Worst tracks....Back Porch

I would definitely recommend listening to this album - fans of Dierks' slower releases should however avoid Pretty Girls, Drunk On A Plane, Sounds Of Summer and Back Porch.

Dierks hasn't toured the UK in a long time and I am certainly excited to see him as part of the C2C: Country To Country Festival! Keep an eye here early next week for my recap of the show!