Dierks Bentley – “Up On The Ridge”
The initial plans were for Dierks Bentley to release two albums this year, one country and one bluegrass. Somewhere along the way, the two albums merged into one, creating either a chocolate-and-peanut butter delicious combination or an oil-and-water affair that won’t please anyone.
“Up On The Ridge,” the title track from that upcoming album, puts the emphasis on the banjo and Dobro–particularly in the extended instrumental break at the end of the song that will probably (and unfortunately) become a radio edit casualty. The traditional bluegrass touches coexist nicely with the more country elements like drums and distorted background vocals (by Alison Krauss, apparently recorded from the bottom of a well).
The song sounds great by itself, and if this is a fair representation of Bentley’s and producer Jon Randall’s vision, the whole album should be a sonic treat. Now, imagine this tune plugged into a radio playlist between a Lady Antebellum pop-country number and some Blake Shelton chest-thumper. There’s such an obvious difference that “Up On The Ridge” achieves the relatively rare feat of standing out from all the other songs with heavy airplay, at least from a musical standpoint.
The talented musicians and the creative production help to make up for the fact that thematically, it’s as safe a song as you can get. There’s nothing here that you haven’t already heard from Justin Moore, Jason Aldean or Easton Corbin, as far as extolling the glories of country romance. Bentley gives a spry and sly vocal performance as he races through the lyrics, making the end result a more generic but entertaining companion piece to “What Was I Thinking.”
“Up On The Ridge” may not be radio’s cup of tea, as many new country music fans don’t necessarily want their country music to sound so country. Yes, it coasts by on style over substance, but if the song is nothing else, it’s interesting. Right now, country music could stand to be more interesting.
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