Track by Track Dissection: Dierks Bentley’s “Riser”

Track by Track Dissection
Dierks Bentley: “Riser”
Released: February 25, 2014
Capitol Records Nashville
Produced by Ross Cooperman

A few times per year, I like to sit down and write down my thoughts of each track on an album that really impresses me.  Dierks Bentley has always been synonymous with making quality music, but after hearing Riser, I felt compelled to dive into each song individually.  It really is an artistic and diverse creation of music which compounds all of life’s emotions.  Dierks includes the happy, sad, dark, fun and complex moments that everyone experiences in life.  The result is an album about how life is all about rising above all the hurt and pain to find happiness.  You may not agree with my thoughts and I do not write this as a review, but more of what I found in the meaning of such a phenomenal creation of music. 

Track Listing:

  1. Bourbon in Kentucky
  2. Say You Do
  3. I Hold On
  4. Pretty Girls
  5. Here on Earth
  6. Drunk on a Plane
  7. Five
  8. Riser
  9. Sounds of Summer
  10.  Damn these Dreams
  11. Back Porch
  12. Hurt Somebody

1. Bourbon In Kentucky

This song has been out on itunes for some time now and was even released as a single until being mysteriously pulled from radio.  That being said, I think it is not only one of the best songs on the album, but one of the best country songs I’ve heard period.  Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am a bourbon connoisseur, so that gives an added pleasure to me.  However, the song is a dark story about a man who cannot drink enough bourbon to drown the memory of a woman he has recently lost.  It is apparent the break-up absolutely devastated his life and the desperation and pain in Dierks’ voice is moving.  Grammy Award Winner, Kacey Musgraves, adds her vocals in the background to this phenomenal tune. 

2. Say You Do

A man wishing that a woman would love him like she used to.  It’s that scary moment where someone realizes they have lost their lover.  The story teller will do anything, even allow lies and pain to just have a single moment of the way it used to be. 

3. I Hold On

The first official single off of the album, currently sitting in the top 10 on Mediabase is a personal song which Dierks describes meaningful things to him that he holds on to.  I think this song works so well because everyone can identify a materialistic thing that they keep because it has emotional value.  He sings about how he keeps his truck even though it’s old, not because of the truck itself, but because of the memories he had driving to Nashville with his recently deceased Father.  Further, he talks about an old guitar that he has had since the start.  He is holding on to these things not for their materialistic value, but for the emotional memories that they stand for.  A brilliant and unique idea that only Dierks can pull off.  If this does not hit #1, country radio should be ashamed of itself.

 

4. Pretty Girls

This is a song which Miranda Lambert apparently hounded Dierks to record.  It is a song written from the perspective of a guy who goes to a concert with his friends just to watch “pretty girls drinking tall boys”.  In the Riser Documentary which aired this past weekend on numerous channels, Dierks said he wrote it on a cocktail napkin at the Bowery Hotel in New York City after a show where he recalled this scene that he sees every night at his shows. 

5. Here On Earth

If you have lost someone who has meant something significant to you in life and hear this song without shedding a tear, you may want to check yourself for a pulse.  A truly heartbreaking account of someone trying to deal with the death of a loved one.  I know when I lost someone way too early that meant so much to me, I went through a time of darkness where I could not understand why it happened.  This song speaks to that very moment where there are no answers that can make it better. 

6. Drunk On A Plane

When I first saw this title I must admit, I rolled my eyes and expected it to be rather cheesy.  On the contrary, Dierks showcases why he is one of the best in the business.  He creates a fun party song that is the result of another heartbreaking moment (a break-up before a vacation which was to serve as a honeymoon).  The song is catchy as hell and will do exceptional on country radio if released as a single.  I dare you to listen to the song and not find yourself singing “buying drinks for everybody” for the rest of the day. 

 7. Five

Another heartbreak song where the story teller has lost a woman he loves and would do anything to get her back.  He speaks about not her every leaving his mind despite her moving all the way across the country and out of his life.  However, a twist comes at the end when the girl calls him up and says the same thing to him that he has been thinking all along.  It comes in the middle of the album as the theme of the album begins to “rise” towards a happier, more content feeling. 

8. Riser

A true highlight of the album which brings together the meaning of the album as a whole.  It’s the moment a man regains his sense of being after getting through hard times.  He tells his loved ones they do not have to worry any more because he is strong.  Each line and each word in the song is inspiring.  It makes the listener want to stay strong for all who depend on them.  I really hope this is also released as a single as I feel it is one of Dierks’ best songs of his career. 

9. Sounds of Summer

A unique way to approach a topic which has been sung about a million times, summer.  Instead of the normal cliches that you usually hear, Dierks approaches it from not the sights, but all the sounds you only hear during the warm months.  Sonically, the production shines on the track with drum rolls, screaming guitars, and reverb on his voice at times.  I could see this doing very well on radio as well. 

10. Damn These Dreams

A beautiful song dedicated to his family and how hard it is to be away from them while he is on the road.  It’s an interesting look into the life of a singer who is trying to follow his musical dreams while still balancing family life.  You can hear pain in Dierks’ voice, but it’s a different because he knows he can’t leave either of his loves: music and family. 

11. Back Porch

Just a fun, good timing summer party song.  There is no deep meaning behind this song, but fits in perfectly in the full scheme of what I think Dierks tried to achieve on the album: a full landscape of life.  There are certainly fun times amidst any trials and tribulations we may come across.  Back Porch is a song you can tap your foot to and let the stress just melt away with some beer on ice. 

12. Hurt Somebody

A simple love song about knowing there is a woman who is out of the story teller’s league.  He knows the girl is trouble and will eventually hurt somebody, but he cannot help himself from hoping it is him.