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Reviews 29/10/2006

Album Of The Week: Dierks Bentley - Long Trip Alone

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Dierks Bentley - Long Trip Alone
Original Release Date: October 17, 2006

What makes up country music? Songs of lovin, livin', leavin', drinkin', and carryin' on. What makes up Dierks Bentley's fourth album? (he had released one in 2001 entitled "Don't Leave me in Love"). Pretty much all that, plus a lot of heart!
These are songs that you and Bentley can both relate to: he compares losing his love to tossing a penny in the Rio Grande; declares that Heaven is a place where even "thieves and prostitutes" can enter; and bemoans the life he's found on the road, while honoring his heroes, friends, and family who help support him. There's nothing surprising here, which isn't much of a surprise itself-after all, Bentely has always worn his life out on his sleeve.

Dierks Bentley grew up in a nonmusical family. He got his country music education on his own by listening to recordings. He left for Nashville at the age of 19. He walked into the Station Inn and got his chance to play on a stage at the hotels bar. After talent scouts heard him, he landed a job on TNN doing research on classic country music and at night he worked on his demos. He finally signed a record deal with Capitol Records and made his debut in 2003.

What we like about Bentley is this: his honesty. He makes records that he is living or has lived in the past. LONG TRIP ALONE more-or-less chronicles his life on the road, showing you how hard-touring he really his. He co-wrote each of the 11 tracks and his voice has deepened since the last cd "Modern Day Drifter" - Bentley's warm tenor has gained a richness and his phrasing hints at the knowing weariness of the well-traveled road warrior.
This record is just as strong as its predecessors (as Bentley sings: "We ain't no rookies, it's our third tour of duty"), featuring those driving rhythms that, though they don't make him unique, do make him stand out from his contemporaries.

LONG TRIP ALONE will please those who have already been captured by Bentley's music, and perhaps wrangle a few more into the herd. Several of the tracks - most notably "Every Mile A Memory", "Long Trip Alone", and "Trying To Stop Your Leaving" - evoke the sound of newer influences on the traditional country sound such as the rhythmic, keening guitar work of Coldplay and even U2.
"Trying to Stop Your Leaving" is a particular standout track with Carter's absolutely gorgeous, melodic bass line throughout with the steel guitar and electric guitar framing Bentley's vocals.
Another standout performance is Morse's steel guitar in the witty "That Don't Make It Easy Loving Me" that provides almost a second "voice" as Bentley recounts the various salacious adventures on the road. Of note, Bentley's road band does a terrific job on "Free and Easy" - celebrating the freedom of a traveling musician's life on the road. A personal favorite is "Soon as You Can" - this sounds like the bookend to "A Lot of Leaving Left to Do" from Modern Day Drifter.
This is a balanced collection of up-tempo party songs with wonderfully heartfelt ballads and the moving bluegrass tune "Prodigal Son's Prayer". It was Dierks who described his album as a mix between U2/Waylong Jennings, and he was on point. When you hear his music its like nothing else being played on the radio.

Longtime Bentley fans will be pleased with this CD: the songs seem both deeply personal, authentic and reflective yet universal in their emotion at the same time.
Overall, a terrific entry from a an exceptionally talented singer-songwriter with a long and successful career in his future. The studio production on the tracks is universally excellent with great definition of the various instruments - there is a clarity to the tones that is not common in the usual junk that populates the airwaves right now.

Dierks is honky-tonk on a modern level. You can tell these songs are written by the man who sings them. When you listen to the CD its like a story, a theme, its rare to find this. Most artists don't write their own music, so it's hard to believe their sincerity when they sing.
With Dierks you know he lived every moment in every song. Its been years since albums like this were on the shelf. Reminds us of the classics like Willie, Waylon and Cash, this is the new outlaw in country music!
Rating: 8

1. Every Mile A Memory (9/10)
2. Can't Live It Down (7/10)
3. Long Trip Alone (9/10)
4. That Don't Make It Easy Loving Me (8/10)
5. Soon As You Can (710)
6. Trying To Stop You Leaving (9/10)
7. Hope For Me Yet (7/10)
8. The Heaven I'm Headed To (8/10)
9. Free And Easy Down The Road I Go (8/10)
10. Band Of Brothers (6/10)
11. Prodigal Son's Prayer (9/10)

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