Seven albums into one of country musics most-respected and most-unpredictable careers, award-winning singer/songwriter Dierks Bentley continues to grow. His latest evolution comes in the form of RISER, that stands as his most personal to date.
Written and recorded in the year following his fathers death, the album draws its title from "Im A Riser," a song about resilience and determination. "Im A Riser" works as a commentary on spiritual, personal and societal recommitment, but it also applies to the competitive battlefield of the music industry. Its particularly appropriate for an album about rejuvenation delivered by Bentley.
"Life in general has a way of knocking you down," Bentley says. "Its different reasons for different folks could be personal reasons, could be family reasons, your job, drugs, alcohol. That song really applies to anybody thats lived. There have always been those moments when we have to get back up and get on our feet. They are defining moments?breakthrough moments."
Accepting change and growing from it is a key theme in RISER, and it is reflected by the tone of the album, which demonstrates a new artistic depth and an extra level of intensity for Bentley. It evolves from track to track, exuding a range of emotions, all the while impressing upon the listener that Bentleys instinct for a hit is stronger than ever. Bentley made significant reconfigurations in his creative team to shake up his sonic texture without sacrificing his commercial drive. He re-enlisted executive producer Arturo Buenahora, Jr., who worked on Bentleys first two albums; and utilized producer Ross Copperman, who co-wrote "Tip It On Back" for Bentleys previous album Home.
The new atmosphere yielded the most focused and intense vocals of Bentleys career. Some were recorded live with the band as the musicians laid down the tracks, but others were captured in less-than-obvious locales. One tracks vocal was recorded on Bentleys tour bus. Still others were cut at Coppermans house with the producer literally at Bentleys side, pushing him to some of his most emotional, and seasoned, performances.
"Its not even really a studio," Bentley says of Coppermans set-up. "Its just kind of a corner of the house hes taken over, so there was a kind of intimacy to the vocal process. It was important to get out of the studio and sing in different places, and to do it with other people in the room. That way, you have an audience and you get a sense of whats working, whats not working, when its feeling good, not feeling good. It brings a little more emotion and energy out of your voice."
Since making a life-altering drive with his father from Phoenix to Nashville when he was 19 years old, Bentley has forged his own path in an industry built predominantly on formula. He has mixed elements of modern country, classic country, bluegrass and rock, maintaining an unmistakable identity while constantly reinventing his sound. His album Home debuted at No. 1 and spawned three consecutive chart-topping hits, marking 10 career No. 1 songs for Bentley as a singer and songwriter. His five previous studio albums have sold more than five million copies, garnered 11 GRAMMY nominations and earned him an invitation to join the Grand Ole Opry.