In 2015, country music has few ambassadors in the mainstream world. George Strait and Alan Jackson are no longer relevant. Traditional fans are looking for someone to show leadership in the genre. While you won't hear Dierks speaking ill of his buddies in the genre, he will lead by example. Dierks refuses to leave songs of substance on the cutting room floor. Sure, he has "5-1-5-0" and "Drunk On a Plane", but those are peppered with "Say You Do", "Bourbon In Kentucky", and his latest, "Riser". As the title cut of his current album, "Riser" is an anthem we can all get behind.
While a lot of radio is still filled with useless lyrics, Dierks Bentley is still making music with some feeling. “Riser” is a love song that does more than just gush over a significant other. The song takes a bit of an inspirational turn, as it focuses on the way the narrator feels like they can overcome anything and face down any demon with his woman on his side. The song was written by Travis Meadows and Steve Moakler. You man recognize Travis Meadows as the genius behind “What We Ain’t Got”, the 2014 Keep It Country, Kids Song Of The Year. Teamed up with Moakler, Meadows brings it again on a song that hits hard and really makes you feel something. Dierks went through a chaotic year last year, losing his father and welcoming his first son into the world. The song “Riser” is a living testament to the ability to rise above the tough times and make something of it. “The hard times put the shine into the diamond” the song states, and it’s exactly right.
Musically, the song is sparse and quiet, giving the lyrics life of their own. It isn’t loud or overbearing, it just floats along, peaking at the right time to keep all of the focus on Dierks’ delivery of the lines. The song has a bit of an odd melody that doesn’t really catch on at first. To me, that gives the song all the more charm. Sometimes when a melody is too easy, it overpowers the message. With a little bit of an unexpected style, the listener is forced to pay close attention. This is why I love it, and probably why it isn’t lighting up the charts at this moment. As far as the singing goes, Dierks sounds great. He has really matured into a fine male vocalist. He has a grit to his voice and a tenderness to his voice at the same time, and knows exactly when to use either side.
“Riser” is another glimmer of hope among the ruins of traditional country radio. While he isn’t a vocal leader, Dierks quietly leads by example, mixing his fun songs with songs of substance. Whether or not this song tops the charts is not the important part. Sure, it would be great to see this song hit number one. But, the important part is that Dierks had the guts to cut this song, name his album after it, and release it as single. He believed in it. He lived it. He sang it. That’s country music, folks.