The familiar shuffle that has held down so many of Dierks Bentley's best songs is back in a brand new way on 'I Hold On,' the new single from the upcoming 'Riser' album. Instead of a locomotive guitar, it's the bass that drives this uptempo track about love, faith and family.

Sonically, 'I Hold On' is more complete than the sparse, but satisfying, 'Bourbon in Kentucky,' his duet with Kacey Musgraves. Lyrically, he starts strong, but levels off, relying more on attitude than substance by the midway point.

"It's just an old beat up box / Six rusty strings across the top / But probably don't look like much to you / But these dents and scratches in the wood / Yeah, that's what makes it sound so good / To me it's better than brand new," he sings during the first verse, after a similar story about his old truck.

There's a rebellious spirit that's alive in Bentley's latest releases, but the singer hasn't quite reached out to ride it with abandon. One senses him trying to do something new, something totally unique, but still not quite wanting to give up the sound and style his longtime fans appreciate. The middle ground is is complex at best, dull at worst.

"So I hold on / To the things I believe in / My faith, your love, our freedom / To the things I can count on to keep me goin' strong / Yeah, I hold on," Bentley sings during the chorus, before a few heartfelt country call-outs to the flag and the love of a good woman.

To be fair to Bentley, he makes albums, not collections of random songs that people might like. Many of his recent singles have sounded twice as good between two complimentary tracks on a record. His dedication to the album as a piece of art is honorable, but it can come at the cost of criticism (or indifference) of a single. There are one or two too many ideas working to get this song off the ground, but the mood will no doubt appeal to a larger audience than the first offering from 'Riser.'

3 Stars

Listen to Dierks Bentley, 'I Hold On'

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