Dierks Bentley Riser
As the bro-ification of mainstream country music continues unabated, it would be easy to look to Dierks Bentley as part of the problem. He’s released his share of party-friendly hits, and his new album Riser does feature a song called “Drunk on a Plane.” But Bentley has always been more nuanced and reflective than his fellow country bros, and Riser’s best moments are heartfelt and personal. Even “Drunk on a Plane” is full of regret, and songs like “Bourbon in Kentucky” and “Say You Do” are melancholy and introspective. Sure, there are a couple of standard-issue “look how country I am” tunes (“Sounds of Summer,” “Back Porch”), but when Bentley sings about his truck on “I Hold On,” it’s clear he’s talking about a real vehicle that means something to him. The album’s best song is the spare, acoustic “Damn These Dreams,” proving that simple, expressive songs are still Bentley’s greatest strength.