Dierks Bentley, ‘Home’ – Album Review
Dierks Bentley is back with producer Brett Beavers for ‘Home,’ a welcome return to the distinct sound the two have crafted since his self-titled debut in 2003.
When listening to a good album by the Arizona born singer, there is always this exciting feeling that he’s somehow getting away with something. It’s like the metaphorical suits at his label aren’t really paying attention, so he gets to take risks other artists wouldn’t dream of. The best example of this is his previous album, ‘Up on the Ridge,’ a vanity project that an artist usually doesn’t get to try until they’re 10 or 15 years into a very successful career.
On ‘Home,’ Bentley again takes chances with his familiar combination of Bakersfield country, bluegrass and singer-songwriter ballads that only work because they’re so honest and convincing. His sound is still far left of mainstream, and he is not blessed with the voice of an angel. But perhaps more than any other artist in Nashville, he makes the most of what God gave him.
‘When You Gonna Come Around’ (featuring Little Big Town‘s Karen Fairchild) and ‘Thinking of You’ are examples of Bentley’s charming vulnerability. He sings like a man not totally comfortable with bearing his feelings, which is to say he sings like pretty much any guy in America would. The Top 10 hit ‘Home’ also works much better between the nonchalant ‘Tip It on Back’ and the clever ‘Diamonds Make Babies’ than it did between any two songs on the radio.
Three turn-it-up moments are ‘Am I the Only One,’ ‘Gonna Die Young’ (these come back to back) and ‘5-1-5-0,’ a potential single that will be noticed for it’ locomotive rhythm before the clever lyrics. “It’s like I got a first class seat / Up on Ozzy’s train,” he sings before exploding into the chorus.
A few mid-tempo cuts fall flat. ‘The Woods’ is a segue song, and the dark and somber love song ‘Breathe You In’ is a little creepy. “I wanna breathe you in / I wanna be so close / You can wear my skin / Like a new set of clothes,” he sings.
‘Home’ is an album, not just a collection of songs and ideas thrown randomly onto compact disc. Bentley sneaks brilliant lyrics between rolling guitar licks and heavy emotion, like he’s giving a wink to the most observant fans. It’s a reward for making it through the project two or three times, which is what it takes to realize the album for all its worth.