Monday, March 31, 2014

The Top 10: Dierks Bentley

     Dierks Bentley is one of the most interesting artists in country music today.  He strives to stay relevant and yet strives to make music that matters.  Dierks has had his fair share of radio and critical success, even if he seems to be ignored on the award show circuit.  With his superb new album Riser recently released, Dierks is a perfect candidate for the next installment of The Keep It Country Kids Top 10.

10.  Train Travelin' - On his self titled debut, Dierks brought in one of bluegrass' most respected group of guys, The Del McCoury Band, and let us know that he was going to be different.  The song is a pure bluegrass cut that features Del and the boys emulating the driving sound of a train.  Great stuff.

9. Draw Me A Map -The second single from Up on The Ridge may have stalled at radio, but it was still a killer song.  The simple yet modern take on the bluegrass sound was refreshing and unique on the radio.  The melody is eloquent and the instrumentation is light and never overpowering.  A perfect picture of modern bluegrass.

8. Damn These Dreams -One of the standouts of Riser, this song focuses on the struggle of leaving behind his family to chase his musical dreams.  Its a heavy, emotional song that is honest and real.  He laid his heart and soul on the line in this song, and it carries some serious weight.

7. Settle For A Slowdown - This song was a fresh take of the theme of a girl leaving.  He doesn't want or expect her to turn around, he just wants her to slow down a little and make it look like its hard to leave. Its a clever approach and very emotional song.  One of my favorite singles in recent years.

6. Every Mile A Memory - Another great lost love song, this one focuses on the miles of memories Dierks faces on his travels.  Its a perfect combination of mournful song mixed with road song.  You feel the pain of a lost love mixed with the intrigue and loneliness of the open road.  Dierks is a master at the modern day sad song.

5. I Hold On -The second single from Riser, this song looks back on the things Dierks hold on to from his past.  It is a very emotional and uplifting song that feels honest.  This is one of Dierks most well-rounded singles to date.

4. Up On the Ridge -When word came out that Dierks was recording a bluegrass themed album, a lot of folks couldn't believe it.  The lead single and title track was one of the best songs on the album. It isn't a true bluegrass song, only "bluegrass inspired", but it charted on the Top 40 countdown, which is the closest a bluegrass song has gotten to being a big radio hit in years.  The song is dark and mysterious sounding, but with light-hearted lyrics.  Add in some Allison Krauss backing vocals and you have a killer song.

3.  What Was I Thinkin'- This was the big smash hit that introduced Dierks Bentley to the world.  It is a fun song with a hilarious story and cool twangy accompaniment.     Many, myself included, thought maybe a song that big would lead to one hit wonder status, but Dierks backed it up.  This is one of the most fun songs in country music.

2.  Home - This is the perfect type of patriotic song.  It doesn't preach at you or belittle ideals and beliefs.  It simply unites us and reminds us that we all have one thing in common: our home.  Dierks released this prior to the 2012 election, which was fiercely divided.  Among the anger and vitriol, "Home" reminded us all that we still were one in this country.

1.  Lot Of Leavin' Left To Do - This song is the perfect song to introduce someone to Dierks Bentley.  It has a cool story revolving around the road and his love life, it is catchy and fun to sing along to, and it hearkens back to country's past, this time by featuring guitar work very similar to Waylon Jennings.  That's what Dierks is all about.  Moving forward and respecting tradition simultaneously.  This is a perfect country song and a perfect example of why Dierks is one of the good guys.

Sound off in the comments section if one was ranked too high or too low, or if I missed your favorite Dierks song! Also, give me some suggestions for more artists to cover in future Top 10 segments!  Remember to Keep It Country Kids!!!!

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