Dierks Bentley returns 'Home' to mainstream sound

The Associated Press, Wednesday, February 8, 2012, 7:51am (PST)

Dierks Bentley, "Home" (Capitol Nashville)

A banjo kicks off Dierks Bentley's new album "Home," recalling a backwoods sound prevalent on his previous, bluegrass-inspired album "Up on the Ridge."

The similarities stop there. The bluegrass album generated rave reviews and but no radio hits. With "Home," Bentley returns to contemporary country music and the top of the charts — in the distinctive fashion that has established him among country music's most interesting hit-makers.

Bentley always utilizes banjo, fiddle, mandolin and especially dobro in his music, but with a modern beat and energy that, along with his distinctive voice, gives him a compelling sound of his own.

Like his peers, he regularly offers songs about celebrating with friends. "Am I The Only One," already a No. 1 hit, as well as "Tip It On Back" and "5-1-5-0" are as entertaining as any partying songs coming from Jason Aldean and Eric Church.

But the Arizona native separates himself from his peers with love songs, which feature a sensual quality rare in modern country music. The steamy "Breathe You In" and the tortured "In My Head" are outstanding relationship songs, while "Home," a valentine to America, is a patriotic ode that doesn't stoop to jingoism.

"Home" indeed finds Bentley back where he belongs: On the top of the country music charts.

CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: The soulfully swaying "When You Gonna Come Around," a sexy duet with Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town, makes flirting sound as if it's going to lead to an inevitably positive conclusion.

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