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"Up On The Ridge" by Dierks Bentley
I suspect most Dierks Bentley fans might not appreciate his new CD, "Up On The Ridge." But I do.
In a tribute to the sound he says he fell in love with as a teenager, Bentley has swapped the hard-driving mainstream radio country music that made him so famous for an equally hard-driving acoustic roots approach that I discovered when I finished growing up in Bentley's hometown of Phoenix.
It's not bluegrass, though there are definite bluegrass elements running throughout "Up On The Ridge." It's also not folk though, again, there is an obvious folksy undercurrent, especially on the story songs. It's not Old Time Country, even though there are Carter Family lyrics and other vintage cues in some of the music.
It's…it's different. It's music that proves earthy, acoustic instrumentation can be every bit as hard-hitting as any heavy-handed southern rock-based sound, and Bentley proves himself a budding master of it.
Along with guests like Miranda Lambert, the Punch Brothers (featuring mandolin mad man Chris Thile and bluegrass icon Del McCoury), Jamey Johnson and Kris Kristofferson, Dierks Bentley turns in an outstanding effort that should expand his name way beyond the strict confines of today's mainstream country music.
But he took a huge career gamble with "Up On The Ridge." With the possible exception of "Love Grows Wild," I don't hear any potential mainstream chart songs in the set, and that might turn some fans against him. But people who truly understand where country music came from and what it's all about should appreciate most of "Up On The Ridge," and find a place for it among their keepers.
I know I will.
Overall Rating: 8
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