Coming off a string of hits including “5-1-5-0,” “Tip It On Back,” and “Home,” country music artist Dierks Bentley recently released his eighth album. Titled Riser the record includes everything from songs about his upbringing to break-ups to perseverance and is his most diverse and, in my opinion, best album put out to date.
The album’s biggest hit, and best song, is “I Hold On.” The song details the three things that Bentley refuses to let go of no matter the struggle or hardship: his truck, guitar, and wife. Although from that description it may seem like another template country song, this one hits to a deeper level. After losing his father in 2012, this is the most vulnerable look into how it affected Dierks as both an artist and a man. The first verse details that even though “it’s just an old beat-up truck” and people think he should trade for a new one because he has the money for it, he keeps from letting go because he holds the memory of his Dad and him in that truck and “she’s still here and now he’s gone.” This vulnerable, deeper side is nice to see from an artist who, up until the last few years, had made his living on putting out hard-rocking party anthems.
This theme of inspiration and introspection holds for some other songs on the album, most notably “Damn These Dreams” and “Riser;” however, he does return to his wheelhouse with “Back Porch.” Outside of that song though, much of the record is a softer sound. Even though the subject matter could easily yield honky-tonk rock songs, he shies away from that sound in favor of a mellowed, nostalgic sound. That is waht makes this record so unique and high quality. It’s easier to listen to than some of his past albums and although many songs have distinct meanings and themes, the sound is very uniform. Even though this does make it teeter on the edge of monotony, the lyrical differences save it from going into that region. The song-writing is extremely good (Bentley co-wrote six of the twelve songs) and shows the development of Bentley as an artist.
Overall, Riser is an extremely good album and, along with his expanded tour dates, could catapult him into super stardom in country music.