My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Dierks Bentley – ‘Riser’

riserOf today’s current crop of artists, Dierks Bentley is one of the few who at least tries to get it right. Much of the time he succeeds, though occasionally his projects fall short of expectations. Unfortunately, his latest effort Riser, which was released last month falls mostly into the latter category. If you like your country arena-rock style, then you’ll probably enjoy this album, but if you think country music should actually sound country, you’ll likely be disappointed.

Riser was produced by singer-songwriter Ross Copperman. Though he has dabbled in country music from time to time — he co-wrote “Tip It On Back” (one of my least favorite Dierks Bentley singles) as well as songs for Steve Holy and Jennette McCurdy — Cooperman is best known for songs like “All She Wrote”, which was a 2007 pop hit in the UK and “Holding On And Letting Go”, which was featured in the television series The Vampire Diaries. Not surprisingly, bringing in a producer from outside the genre has resulted in one of Dierks’ least country-sounding albums.

Things get off to a decent start with “Bourbon In Kentucky”, the album’s lead single featuring background vocals from Kacey Musgreaves. Surprisingly, the record stalled at #40. The current single “I Hold On”, which Bentley wrote with Brett James, has fared much better. It currently resides at #3 on the charts, but it’s not particularly memorable.

Though not in alignment with my tastes, Riser is at least several notches above the usual dreck heard on country radio today, and it does contain some substantive songs. “Here on Earth” was inspired by the death of Dierks’ father and the 2012 Sandy Hooks school shootings in Connecticut, and “Damn These Dreams”, about trying to juggle competing priorites is well written. But I am bored to distraction with arena rock laced with a bit of banjo and steel guitar so people will think it’s country.

I became more and more disillusioned with this album with each passing track, when I was pleasantly surprised by the very last one — “Hurt Somebody”, which — surprise! actually sounds country and even contains a bit of fiddle and background vocals by Chris Stapleton, whose gravelly voice complements Dierks’ nicely. “Hurt Somebody” is the album’s one truly great song. Download it along with “Bourbon In Kentucky” and “Here on Earth” and skip the rest.

Grade: C

4 responses to “Album Review: Dierks Bentley – ‘Riser’

  1. Occasional Hope March 14, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I was disappointed in this, too.

  2. eduardodefrutos March 14, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    I always think to myself: Are you sure Hank done it this way? Where did real country music go anyway?

  3. Leeann Ward March 15, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    I’ve only listened to it twice so far, but I mostly agreed with your assessment of this album. I like “Bourbon in Kentucky”, “Here on Earth”, “Damn These Dreams”, “I Hold On”, and “Hurt Somebody.” I don’t like when he second guesses his original instincts. He said that he had a different album at first, but added some lighter things to it after “Bourbon in Kentucky” stalled. A similar thing happened with the Feel that Fire album, which turned out to be my least favorite Bentley albums.

  4. Michael Roettger August 9, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Are you serious? I’m a fan of them too, but your not gonna hear the Hanks, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, or anything like that on radio now a days so get over it. Say You Do is my favorite song off this album & I Hold On is second. This is a great album. If your just looking for something that sounds 30+ years old, sorry but your probably gonna be disappointed a lot

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