Sunday, March 2, 2014

Dierks Bentley's "Riser" Album - A Conversation Between Dierks Friends

Riser review, part two.

It's difficult to be objective when you're a Dierks Bentley fan for life. If you talk to any DB Congress member they will say they love his new album, "Riser." Of course...what's not to love? Anytime our president puts himself out there, raw and exposed, it makes us love him even more.  As an artist and songwriter, the character of the man who moves us with his music every day oozes out of every pore of Riser.  

Every lyric is truly believable, his vocal never more emotional and heartfelt.  It's as if he's giving us a peek into his very soul. In fact, "heart and soul" are threaded throughout the project both lyrically and emotionally.

Follow along below while Dierks friends discuss each track. 

Bourbon in Kentucky - Written by Hillary Lindsey/Gordie Sampson/Ryan Tyndell.
  • CS:  There is nothing to say about this song that hasn't already been said: a wonderful song that most people didn't get to hear, didn't get its justice at radio, blah blah blah. Still so, so good. One of my favorite Dierks cuts in years... there are a few songs on this album that would likely make my Top 15 Dierks songs list and this is one of them.
  • RC:  Some say I Hold On sounds like a hearbeat but to me, Bourbon's guitar riff is thump-thumping like a heart ticking away, and and the subtle, vibrating instrumentation added by producer Ross Copperman is so unique.  Kacey Musgraves lends smooth vocals to blend perfectly, resulting in a harmonizing balance with Dierks' gravelly ache. This is an extremely well-written song.  But Dierks added his own twist.  By the end, he's just over it...."so forget you." A BIG song, that radio might regret not getting behind.

Say You Do -
Written by Matt Ramsay/Shane McAnally/Trevor Rosen
  • CS:  And this is another one that would crash my Dierks Top 15. I absolutely cannot get enough of this song. I've been a big fan of Shane McAnally's songwriting for a while now, notably starting with Kenny Chesney's "Somewhere With You" and this one is absolutely no different - I love it. There's such longing in the lyrics and I really feel like Dierks nailed this vocally. SO well done. I would be ecstatic if this was released as a single... right now this is my favorite song on the album.
  • RC: Besides Riser, this is my favorite song on the album.  I can't get it out of my head. Then I heard Dierks and the guys sing it live for the first time at the iHeart Radio show in NYC and when Brian Layson, Cassady Feasby and Dan Hochhalter sang the harmonies, I was blown away! Say you want this to be a single, Dierks!  Even if you don't -- say you do!

I Hold On - 
Written by Dierks Bentley/Brett James
  • CS: I still love this song, even though it's been 13 months since I heard it for the first time. This song is like the little song that could to me - I'm proud of how well it's doing recently and I know that it will be a very, very meaningful #1 for Dierks when it gets there. IT BETTER GET THERE.
  • RC: This song still gets to me.  Being a hard core fan, I know this IS Dierks.  Brett James did a good job co-writing to capture Dierks' essence.  I love the way the drums sound like a train clacking down the track and the ghost-like background vocals in the last verse really drive home the point that things from the past are here to stay in his "here and now" life.
  • CS: Yes! I love the production on this song, and I love the album version so much more than the radio version - the instrumentation seems so much fuller and it really enriches the entire song.

Pretty Girls -
Written by Jessi Alexander/Dierks Bentley/Jon Randall
  • CS: While thematically one could argue that it's "bro," I feel like it loses that stigma both in the imagery of the lyrics, the depth of his vocals, and the whole mid tempo vibe of the song. It's probably in the bottom half of the album for me overall, but it's not the skipper I thought it would be based on the title and initial info that was released about the song.
  • RC: Pretty Girls lyrically -- no. But I like the "Tip It On Back" melodic vibe. And it doesn't sound so bro like.
  • CS: Pretty Girls was inspired by the fans! Cmon! I love it. Haha.
  • RC: Oh I thought you didn't like PG. Miranda [Lambert] loves it! She wants it to be a single.
  • CS: You know I hate bro but to me it ain't bro. These 'bro' songs lately make me feel dirty listening to them - PG to me just rings so true, and again, there's significantly more depth to the lyrics than 90% of what's being released lately.

Here on Earth -
Written by Dierks Bentley/Ross Copperman/Ryan Tyndell
  • CS: I really like this song. It kind of punches you in the gut, especially if you've ever lost someone close to you (and there are so very few who haven't experienced that), but melodically and lyrically it's so well done. Definitely among the top songs on the album for me.
  • RC:  The ache in his voice is so real and takes me right back to my mom's death. There ain't a piece of my soul I haven't searched.  Anyone who has ever suffered the loss of a loved one is instantly transported to that time with his vocal vulnerability.
  • CS: I would agree with that. It's been years since I lost anybody but I still cried the first time I heard this song. And I can relate to the lines "I've read the words of the Teacher but I still struggle with what it's all worth." This song is just so honest.
Drunk on a Plane - Written by Dierks Bentley/Josh Kear/Chris Tompkins
  • CS: So through the course of my listening to the album, I've done a 180 on this song. I would be totally fine seeing this as the next single. It's silly, yes, and has sort of a novelty feel and will likely have a very high burn rate - but it's well-written and clever and honestly doesn't really sound much like anything else out right now. I really enjoy the instrumentation and Dierks' vocals on this song really sold it for me - and hearing the full song helped, as well. So. Single. Go for it.
  • RC: Yep - this song has #1 single written all over it! Yes, there's that alcohol thing, yet it's different and lyrics are so catchy and unique! Favorite line: "Told her about my condition, got a little mile-high flight attention." Am I the only one who tries to sit in seat "7A" on a Southwest flight?"
Five - Written by Dierks Bentley/Ross Copperman/Ryan Tyndell
  • CS:  Listening to the previews, Say You Do and Five really jumped out at me immediately and were the two I couldn't wait to hear in full the most... and after hearing them both in full that still stands - I love this one, too. Great song. Great storytelling and longing here, and again, Dierks nailed the vocals.
  • RC: Love this song, but could have done without the screaming guitar. Favorite line: "Girl you never cross my mind, yeah you stay there all the time." And the hook: "but the one that came up tonight is the one I've known all my life, it's your mama's place and I heard your pretty voice say, this might sound crazy..."
  • CS: I would normally agree but Ross Copperman's production on this entire album is just so solid - the guitar doesn't seem out of place to me.
Riser - Written by Travis Meadows/Steve Moakler
  • CS:  So much buzz surrounding this song already! What an uplifting song. I love that Dierks' whole premise for naming the album after this song is that this song fully embodies the man he wants to be. I can totally get behind that - it's so inspiring. I'm still nervous about this as a potential single... I feel like the timing needs to be just right for it to work out, but at the very least I hope this song can see some nominations, and if not this year, then for 2015 (depending on its potential release to radio and eligibility deadlines). He really did the song great justice here.
  • RC: The title track was brilliantly written by Travis Meadows and Steve Moakler; yet, it's as if Dierks penned it himself...perfect for this time of his life and perfectly weaves the story of his transformation over the last two year from his dad's death to his son's birth. He has always been a riser, steadily singing along for the last decade, not content to follow the formula, rising above the norm. Favorite line: I'm a get down low so I can lift you higher.  During the Riser documentary, Dierks supports his wife Cassidy on the way into the hospital to have baby Knox. "You're gonna do so good," he tells her. "Thank are you!" she replies, resting her head on his shoulder.  Literally and figuratively this line says it all: Lay your pretty head down on my shoulder/You dont have to worry anymore." Dierks IS a lighter, a survivor. Believability 101.  Plus, I love the use of "er" to turn verbs into nouns.  Like us--we are DBC-ers! How meaningful that his dad was in the Thunderbirds charitable organization and that helped shape the idea for the Riser bird symbol.
Sounds of Summer - Written by Zac Crowell/Matt Jenkins/Adam Sanders
  • CS:  I still think this could be the next single, but I really wish they hadn't used the autotune in the bridge or whatever. It just kind of sticks out like a sore thumb. I like the melody and this song sounds nice, but my husband called it a Jake Owen song and I definitely have to agree (which isn't necessarily a bad thing, per se - it's more BBJN than Beachin so there's that). But overall, I'd probably put this toward the bottom of the album for me... which isn't to say it's a bad song, or even one that I'll skip. To me, it's just filler.
  • RC: In Sounds of Summer, producer Ross Copperman dubs Dierks' own voice in the background vocal. Did I imagine this or do you hear it, too?
  • CS: Yep, that's Dierks doing backing. The more I listen to this song the more I enjoy it. I really like that the song is talking about the sounds of summer vs. the sights or some of the more cliche tailgates, moonlight, beer themes that have been overrunning the airwaves lately. To me, the sounds of summer would be seagulls at the beach, fireworks, the stillness of a hot summer day... it's cool that there's a song that speaks to that.
Damn These Dreams - Written by Dierks Bentley/Ross Copperman/Jaren Johnston (The Cadillac Three)
  • CS: This song breaks my heart. It's almost like it's too honest... like, painfully honest to the point where I'm like, "stop touring! Go be with Cassidy and your adorable children and be a dad!" but then I'm like, well... but he's doing what he loves so I probably shouldn't feel too guilty, right? But man. This is a great song, but it's so hard to listen to. (Kind of like Down in the Mine off Up on the Ridge. Brilliant song - but can't listen to it every time.)
  • RC:  "Damn these Dreams" proves his love for both fans and family--and he's torn. its hard to look true love in the eye and leave.  
Back Porch - Written by Cary Barlowe/Jaren Johnston/Hillary Lindsey
  • CS:  I'm still unsure about BP's inclusion on the album. I think if I could change one thing about the album, it would be to put another song in its place. I understand why they included it, but I wish we'd gotten something entirely new - but that might just be the greedy megafan in me.
  • RC: Agreed.  I like the song, but it fits better on the Country and Cold Cans EP.
Hurt Somebody - Written by Matthew Fleener/Shane McAnally/Mark Nessler
  • CS: Hello wonderful song. Hello Chris Stapleton harmonies. What a gem. I mean, what else more is there to say? 
  • RC: That lonesome fiddle is somehow soothing the "hurt" in his voice.  Chris has a powerful voice (Falling For You).  I wouldn't have minded if Chris had a more prominent presence.
  • CS: I love a fiddle...
  • RC: And which song is Charlie Worsham playing on? LOVE him!
  • CS: I know he played on Bourbon in Kentucky, according to a Billboard article that was out when BiK was at radio ... but I don't know which other tracks he played on, if at all. I'd love to know, though!
  • RC:  Charlie, if you're reading this, clue us in!

-Carrie Srebro (CS) - North Carolina
-Ronna Clark (RC) - Florida 

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant review. Agree with most everything written.