Dierks Bentley opens up like never before on “Riser”

3/5 pitchforks

Dierks Bentley is far from shy on his eighth album.

The country singer from Arizona did not hold back and created his most introspective and emotional album to date in “Riser.”

According to a Rolling Stone article , Bentley was going to release the album last year but was not happy when his single with Kacey Musgraves, “Bourbon in Kentucky,” did not take off. Also during that time, his wife was pregnant with their third child and his father passed away. A plethora of new emotions in his life, Bentley decided to push back the release date and work on the album more – which was a good decision.

 

 

The single, “Bourbon in Kentucky,” which is about an unfortunate shortage of Kentucky whiskey for him to drink to forget a past love, was an indicator of what kind of album “Riser” would be.

Bentley has been known for writing the typical country breakup song with thought-provoking lyrics.

He built his career on rough heartbreak songs like “Trying to Stop Your Leaving” and “Every Mile a Memory.” He takes advantage of his deeper voice to illustrate the true feeling of each song.

He does the same on his latest debut with songs like “Say You Do” and “Five.”

However, in “Riser” he takes his emotional songwriting to a whole different level. Considering the events that took place at this time, it makes sense.

Following his father’s death, Bentley decided to cope with a pad, pen and guitar. In “Here on Earth,” the fifth song of the album, Bentley slows things down with a finger-picking acoustic ballad about his father.

The song tells the story of Bentley standing in front of his father’s grave and sets the scene of him coping with the pain. But Bentley’s mourning song is unique compared to other “I’ll miss you” tunes typical for the country genre. The song raises the question that everyone has to deal with, which is: Why do bad things have to happen?

Bentley explains in the last line of the chorus how he does not and will not ever know the answer to that question.

“The only answer I’ve found for all this hurt / Is there ain’t no answer here on earth.”

Bentley is a 38-year-old country star. Like most older singers he has to change up his song selection to suit his age. No one is going to believe a singer, nearing 40, is still raising hell at the local honky tonk.

For artists like Bentley, the songs usually take a new path and focus on family life. Instead of writing the typical “I love my wife and kids” song, Bentley took similar themes and created a better story with his song.

The recent birth of his son had Bentley take the emotion and put it on paper. In one of closing tracks of the album, Bentley tells the story of a touring father in “Damn These Dreams.”

Everyone knows it’s tough for performers to be away from their families for months at a time. Bentley admits this in the song and goes on to explain that he has to balance his two loves: his family and his music.

Songwriting can be a cathartic experience. Obviously in “Riser,” Bentley worked through some emotions, and country fans benefited from the sincerity in his personal songs.

Reach the reporter at ehubbard@asu.edu and on Twitter @Edmund_Hubbard