I know there are tons of raving reviews out there right now on Dierks' new Feel That Fire CD (and I for one am rightly pleased!), but this one had a little different spin. Enjoy!
Is Dierks Bentley trying for some pop crossover?
Published Saturday February 28th, 2009
Mainstream commercial country music has some shining stars, and one of them is Dierks Bentley. His fourth studio album Feel That Fire could be interpreted as his stab at some pop crossover as well.
For example, the album begins with a guitar effect straight out of Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love to kick into the lead track Life On The Run. As Bentley establishes a mid-tempo groove, it is above all else a mainstream pop tune. This is despite the country spices in the instrumentation and storyline of a solitary rambler.
This transition is a very east one for the Arizona-born Bentley. His early years were honed with country soil, and always conjured up images of the Merle Haggard/Waylon Jennings school. However, he has always managed to straddle on terrain outside those country roots.
At his best on this album, as in his career of the decade, Bentley is a songwriter in the broadest sense. His voice could safely fit in any genre, being the polar opposite of a trademark country twang.
That said, Bentley's ultimate foundation is the country genre itself. Spices are always there - steel guitar in the love anthem with a pop beat Feel That Fire and the mid-tempo groover You Hold Me Together, banjo at the end of the work-week tale Sideways, Tex Mex in the love lament I Can't Forget Her.
In all cases, his able lyrics match his melodies in basic country genre storylines.
The 12-song album has a few traditional country moments, and they are collaborations. One is in songwriting, as Bentley teamed up with Rodney Crowell to write the anthem Pray. Bentley also duets with Patty Griffin on the waltz Beautiful World. The album closer is Last Call, a bluegrass romp with Ronnie McCoury and his band.
Whether Bentley reaches beyond his considerable country fan base with this album remains to be seen. Regardless, he has delivered something that will keep his bread and butter audience rightly pleased.
Fredericton-based freelance writer Wilfred Langmaid has reviewed albums in The Daily Gleaner since 1981, and is a past judge for both the Junos and the East Coast Music Awards. His column appears each Saturday.