Single Review: Dierks Bentley – ‘Riser’
June 17, 2015
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To complete the Riser era of his career, Dierks Bentley lobbied his label to release the album’s downbeat title track to radio. He feels it’s the cornerstone of the album, a once-in-a-career song that would’ve haunted him had he left it as an album cut.
With that kind of praise coming directly from the artist’s mouth, it’s practically a setup for failure. Is Bentley purposefully overselling things in order to drum up excitement for a mediocre song? Is “Riser” really as good he claims?
I don’t know if I’d call it a ‘once-in-a-career’ song, but succeeds by tapping into our need for anthems that champion overcoming adversity without devolving into riddled clichés. Travis Meadows and Steve Moakler have found a unique angle from which to make their point, using the phrase ‘I’m A Riser’ to convey their message. By paying close attention to other songs of this ilk, they’ve ditched what’s tired and exercised ample imagination. I cannot praise them enough for taking the time to find the deeper song underneath the schlock.
Bentley, meanwhile, gives an interesting vocal performance that shows off new colors in the deeper register of his voice. By completely bucking convention he’s showing growth as a performer and using his voice to suit the overall tone of the track on which he’s singing. It’s not necessarily my cup of tea, but the effort is there, and should be applauded none-the-less.
Production-wise, “Riser” isn’t “Say You Do,” which is among the finest singles of Bentley’s career to date. I hate the gruff masculinity of it. Growing up, I became accustom to country music that was soft, both vocally and in terms of production. While this aspect of “Riser” does absolutely nothing for me, it doesn’t hinder the track in any significant way.
So what if “Riser” has more in common with arena rock than country music? It’s still a very strong intelligent lyric sung by a mainstream country artist still committed to bringing quality songs to the public. May he finally get the awards that have cruelly eluded him for far too long.