The past two albums in Dierks Bentley’s long and illustrious career – 2014’s Riser and 2016’s Black – garnered some of the best reviews of his career in addition to adding to his collection of Gold and Platinum. When it came time for his next album – The Mountain – he decided to take an even more adventurous approach.
“I was playing the Bluegrass festival at Telluride, and it was an amazing day out there,” he said at a recent press event in Music City. “I was on the stage with Sam Bush, Chris Thiele, and Jerry Douglas, and Del McCoury came out and surprised me. It was very much an epic day. There was something special about that vibe. I wanted to make an album about the west, but I wasn’t sure if it would be a lyrical thing or a sound of where I’m from. I went out there with six other songwriters (with the mentality) of ‘Hey, this is what I’m trying to write. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s in here somewhere, so let’s go for some hikes and get the vibe. I connect with that are in a way that soulfully inspired a lot of metaphors.”
Bentley says that it wasn’t just the geography that influenced him on the album. His audience played a vital part in the creative process. “You meet so many fans backstage at your meet and greets, and they tell you these great stories,” he said to Music Update Central. If you’re really open to hearing them, and taking them in, they can really give your show an added purpose. I heard so many stories of people struggling and using live music on their journey, so that became a metaphorical thing for the mountain. I just tried to follow that muse and see where it grows. I feel we got lucky, and it was an authentic experience. There was a lot of magic involved.”
Magic is exactly what happened with the first single, “Woman, Amen,” which is moving up the airplay charts in a steady fashion. Of the song, the Grand Ole Opry star says “I wrote it with the same guy that I wrote ‘Drunk On A Plane’ with. Josh Kear brought the idea to me, and I didn’t know what it was, but I just loved what it said. It just felt different, which is always what I’m trying to find. I love the message, which is very reflective and honest of the relationship that I have with my wife,” he says of his spouse of twelve years, Cassidy.
“I am more grateful for her with every year that goes along. When I first got married, I was doing close to three hundred dates a year. I remember getting married, and I was back on the road three days later. It was so crazy. But, the more life goes on, the more we have gotten closer. She steered me through so much and helped me become the man that I am. She just has more vision, as most women do. I feel like the song is very honest and personal, but also very universal. It’s a good way to start the album. I feel that the album is a big, inclusive thing, with songs about living, and mountains, nature, and landscapes. But, I wanted to start with home – and her.”
He laughs when asked what her opinion of the new track was. “My wife’s tough,” he confesses. “She’s heard all the B.S. I would come home and play her songs and tell her ‘I just wrote a love song for you.’ She’d just say ‘You guys are just trying to get a hit. You can’t pull that shit on me. Why does she have blue eyes?’ I’d tell her ‘Blue just sells better.’ So, she can really read through it. But, she really likes this song. I could say it’s her favorite song on the album, but it’s not. There are other songs on there that she connects to more. She’s not really looking for songs that talk about her. She is just looking for songs that she just likes. But, now that it’s top ten on iTunes across all genres, she likes it a lot. It’s like Flatt & Scruggs and the Beverly Hillbillies theme song. They hated it until it sold a million copies, then they started to like it.”
At the end of the day, Bentley feels that the experience of making The Mountain was one that re-energized him. “I think that every album is a chance to check in with yourself, and see that you’ve moved a little further alone in your own evolution as a person, and it’s also a chance to show your fans where you’re at too. You’re either growing or dying. You’ve got to adjust. Awakening, gratitude, and compassion – along with spiritual growth, all of that is important. Trying to find a way to translate that into music can be difficult. The road is a crazy thing. You see so many people and you travel so much. If you;re not affected by that, you’re not getting off the bus enough. It changes you, and it should. Trying to make a record that’s reflective of that journey was why I connected with the mountains. I just am trying to evolve and get better at me. I think that’s reflective on the album.”
The Mountain will be released later in 2018.