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GAC Album Review: Dierks Bentley’s Home

Dierks Bentley

Dierks Bentley's 2012 CD, Home. Photo courtesy of Capitol Nashville.

On his last record, 2010’s Up On The Ridge, Dierks Bentley went Appalachian while pursuing his love for bluegrass, amidst earthy tones and Americana-influenced songs. Though the album was critically acclaimed and garnered Country Album of the Year nominations from both the Grammys and CMA, the singles didn’t achieve quite the same success at radio as his previous releases. On Home, his first mainstream set since 2009’s Feel That Fire, Dierks returns with 12 contemporary songs that showcase the singer/songwriter firmly entrenched in his element and building on established strengths.

With the album’s first single, “Am I The Only One,” already reaching the top spot on the country charts, and follow-up single “Home” currently in the Top 10, it’s clear the new work is already connecting. These two songs also highlight the diversity of Dierks’ songwriting and continued artistic drive. “Am I The Only One” is a rowdy stomp through a wild night that has Dierks seeking out someone to party with, while “Home” is an introspective and vast power ballad celebrating our differences with elegant patriotism. Dierks’ ability to maneuver between lighthearted and openly emotional from song-to-song has been a key aspect to his career — and he continues to execute it flawlessly here.

Songs like the quick “5-1-5-0,” punctuated by sharp acoustic riffing and tight banjo, illustrate Dierks’ sense of humor and penchant for entertaining twists. 5-1-5-0, just this side of loco/ I’m goin’ crazy / Think I love you, baby, he sings through lyrical dips and dives. On the hard-driving “In My Head,” distorted guitars roll along while Dierks shows off his ability to develop engaging melodies over an entire song. Flowing through verse and chorus, melodies build to a powerful refrain complete with rhymes inside rhymes. You’re still in that t-shirt on my bed/ You’re every song that’s on, you’re gone, but you’re in my arms in my head, he sings with an emotional punch.

On the swaying “Tip It On Back,” Dierks cleverly alters the carefree nature found in other songs on the album with a desire for being free from troubles when faced with tough struggles. With epic-sounding production supplied by Brett Beavers and Luke Wooten, ringing guitars and twinkling mandolin lay a foundation for forgetting about Main Street closing and miles of “for sale” signs with a good old-fashioned night at the bar. It’s a smart emotional swap that gives the song extra depth.

Home features guest spots from bluegrass players Sam Bush and Tim O’Brien on “Heart of a Lonely Girl,” and Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild adds beautiful dynamics to the bluesy “When You Gonna Come Around.” However, it’s Dierks’ three-year old daughter Evie who provides the most touching collaboration, singing the final chorus of “Thinking Of You” and creating the album’s most tender moment. On Home, Dierks masterfully pulls these different elements together, creating an album that succeeds in both its artistic vision as well as its mainstream appeal.

Key Tracks – “When You Gonna Come Around,” “Home,” “In My Head,” “Diamonds Make Babies”

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