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. 

Dierks Bentley: More Than A Riser in Hartford

Dierks Bentley
Locked & Reloaded Tour
August 3, 2013
Hartford, Connecticut


 Dierks Bentley may be an “opening act” on the current ‘Locked & Reloaded Tour’, but his performance in Hartford this past Saturday night had all of the makings of a head-liner mainstay.  Following sets from Kix Brooks and newcomer Rae-Lynn, the tenacious Dierks took to the stage to an energetic version of “Am I The Only One” and instantly made sure he was not the only one there ready to party. 

What followed was a perfectly conceived setlist that contained equal parts love, fun, memories and patriotism.  Whether it was “Free & Easy” or “Every Mile A Memory”, you could tell Dierks sings songs about moments he has experienced and things that he loves.  Nothing shows that more than he brand new single, “I Hold On”, which the crowd was lucky enough to hear before its release. 

“I Hold On” tells a story about the truck his deceased father had given to him and despite all the years and wear and tear, he still holds on to it because “…she’s still here and now he’s gone”.  The same goes for his guitar and despite its scratches and dents, he likes it better than a new one.  The message is clear: life is not about things, but more about memories.  I expect this single to be an enormous hit for Dierks, who seems to be one of the few in today’s country music to be consistent with the quality of music he puts out. 

Another true highlight of Dierks’ set was when he and his band put forth an impressive rendition of “Up On The Ridge”, the title track from a previous bluegrass record he had released.  The song starts with the band lined up next to each other perched on a raised stage with a gleaming forest and moon backdrop and finishing with the band jamming out at the front of the stage.  It is the perfect song to showcase just how impressive Dierks’ entire band is as the jam out at the end of the song was as firey as the flames that appeared on the big screen. 

Of course the ladies were not forgotten as Dierks proceeded to tell everyone on the lawn to get close to their significant other so that he could help them get lucky.  He then serenaded the crowd with the sexy “Come A Little Closer” and followed it up with “Feel That Fire”.  Both songs blended together nicely in the middle of an action packed set.

Dierks added in humorous comments throughout, brought a woman on stage to (poorly) play his guitar, and even signed a guitar and gave it to a concert goer in the pit.  At times he was on his knees slapping five with fans and at other times he was catching air with his patented jump in place dance.  He is a true entertainer who is happy, humble, talented and explosive from the beginning to end of each performance.


Dierks finished off his brilliant set with the beautiful “Home” which combines a sense of patriotism with a touch of self worth.  It is constructed without a military or flag waving sense of love for America that is unique compared to many other patriotic-like songs.  Nonetheless, shouts of USA resonated from the crowd and Dierks’ throaty delivery had the capcity crowd in the palm of his hand at show’s end.  After hearing “I Hold On” and “Bourbon in Kentucky” (although it was not performed), I fully expect his soon to be released ‘Riser’ album to be everything one would expect from Dierks Bentley, a consistent and quality product. 


  1. Am I The Only One
  2. Free & Easy (Down The Road I Go)
  3. 5-1-5-0
  4. Every Mile A Memory
  5. Lot of Leaving
  6. Come A Little Closer
  7. Feel That Fire
  8. Tip It On Back
  9. Up on the Ridge
  10. Settle for a Slowdown
  11. I Hold On
  12. What Was I Thinking
  13. Sideways
  14. Home

Dierks Bentley Goes Home To New York City

Dierks Bentley
iHeart Radio Theater, NYC
February 6, 2012

Original publication was on

Dierks Bentley performed a private concert last week at the iHeartRadio Theater presented by P.C. Richard & Son, in NYC, in support of his new album, Home. Thanks to our friends at iHeartRadio, we sent ten lucky winners and their guest to the performance, and as he always does for us, Ryan Miller attended the show and was kind enough to recap the night. Here’s his review, along with pictures via iHeartRadio.

On February 7, the evening of his newest album release, Dierks Bentley performed a private, intimate concert at the iHeart Theater in New York City. Despite tickets being given out on an invite-only basis, the theater was packed with Dierks fans hoping for a sneak peak of some of his newest album’s material. They were not disappointed!

Jonathan Clarke, an on-air radio personality from New York City’s Q104.3, introduced Dierks and his band who went right into a new cut off of their new release, “Tip It On Back”. The song is simply about getting ready to go out to a party; very much a prelude to what is destined to be a great night. The song is simple but catchy and had everyone geared for the night.

Dierks’ appearance had changed quite a bit from his look over the past few years. Instead of the curly blonde hair he is well known for, he had a much shorter haircut with no sign of his famous curls. I overheard several women in the crowd debating which look they liked better, with the new look seemingly the winner.

The second song performed was his well known hit, “Feel that Fire” and the crowd responded with cheers and the night’s first sing-a-long. Dierks lifted his guitar vertically alongside his body in what has become his patented chorus move. Immediately after finishing the song he shouted to the New York City crowd “am I the only one who wants to get it on tonight?” It was obvious what was next, his latest No. 1 Billboard single, “Am I The Only One.” As he sang the party anthem, Dierks’ crowd interaction was impressive as he was pointing, waving, smiling and running around the stage. He even added a third verse in which he called the “NYC only verse” and spoke about partying in the streets of the big city.

He introduced his next song off of the new album as one inspired by the rock band Van Halen. He stated that Van Halen had an album that he loved when he was younger named “5-1 5-0” which was also the police code for criminally insane. This song was named after both of those. The song is a fast paced, excitable song which, in my opinion, would do wonderfully at country radio. He ripped off the leather jacket he was wearing and geared up for the bombastic song.

Next he slowed things down for a song titled “Come Around,” which he states was recorded as a duet with Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town. It’s a very bluesy sounding song with beautiful loving lyrics. This song also has the goods to be a big hit at country radio. He next re-called the four night “New York City residency” when he played four bluegrass shows in four nights in some of the most intimate venues of New York. He then gave the fans a taste of his bluegrass hit Up On The Ridge which truly showcased the immense skill the band contains.

He then introduced his next song as a “song that is not country.” He stated that he created it for a Jimmy Fallon television special described as the Pink Floyd series. He was asked to do a country version of the Pink Floyd classic “Wish You Were Here.” I was standing next to Jonathan Clarke of Q104.3 and could see how impressed he was, as a rock music DJ, that Dierks did such a great rendition of the song. With the steel guitar and a fiddle, he transformed the song into his own, while doing great justice to the original.

He followed up the song with his former No. 1 hit “Sideways” and his energy was at an all time high. He jumped into the crowd and was handing out the microphone to fans for the vocals. He next explained to the crowd that he has a 1959 Martin Guitar which always makes him feel like he is at home. He proclaimed that “Washington D.C. is the capital, but New York City is the pulse of the country. The whole country feels what happens here. And I feel like it is part of my home.” He then did a moving rendition of his latest single and title track of his new album, “Home.”

He finished off his set with arguably his most famous song to date, “What Was I Thinking.” He cranked the energy up to 10 for one final song, thanked the crowd for coming, and grabbed his fellow band members for a group bow. The theater gave him a standing ovation and, with the love that Dierks got from the crowd, you could tell why he considers NYC his ‘home.’

The iHeart Radio Theatre was a perfect venue for such an intimate concert which really allowed Dierks to give some inside information about why he wrote some of the new songs while showcasing the full band’s vast talent. All in all, it was an exceptional show in a fantastic venue. Thank you to CountryMusicIsLove, iHeart Radio, and Clear Channel Radio for such a great opportunity.  Photos courtesy of Jennifer Pottheiser for iHeartRadio. 

Dierks Bentley Feels at Home in New York City

Dierks Bentley
Country & Cold Cans Tour
featuring Jerrod Niemann and Eli Young Band
Irving Plaza, New York City
October 21, 2011

Dierks Bentley brought his Country & Cold Cans Tour to the Big Apple for two nights this October.  I was in attendance for the second of the two shows and you could tell he felt right at home.  Last year he had a four night residency in NYC, playing a few different venues while promoting his Bluegrass album “Up on the Ridge”.  I attended two of those shows as well as two of his shows on the Jagermeister Tour, one of which he brought me and my wife up on stage (see ) – so I am very familiar with how Dierks operates.  Tonight was no different, if anything, he took the decible level up one more notch.

Upon arriving at the Iriving Plaza, located in the heart of Union Square NYC, there was a line wrapped in front of the building and around which went on for another three blocks.  It was a quite a site to see so many hyped up country fans dressed in boots, plaid shirts, and trucker hats lined up on the streets of NYC.  The first act on the bill was the Eli Young Band.  I must admit I did not think I knew many of their songs, but once their set was off and running, I was quite familiar with most of their tunes. 

Their lead singer has a great voice and their songs are full of memories from their hometown.  Songs such as “When It Rains”, “Only the Love Songs”, and “Crazy Girl” have had a decent rotation on country radio and were very impressive live.  The band is not flashy, but not at all dull, not down home country, but not hipster – their look was very similar to their music.  I look forward to seeing them again and buying their cd collection as well.

Next up was Jerrod Niemann.  I had purchased Judge Jerrod’s cd the day it came out large in part for his remake hit of “Lover, Lover”, but this was the first time I have been able to see him live.  And he did not disappoint in the least.  He was extremely energetic and dynamic.  The crowd really responded and the New York City venue started to transform into a Nashville Honky-Tonk. 

Jerrod Niemann has a very strange look.  He has long messy hair and wears a very different hat compared to most country singers and he backed by a band mixed with predominately older gentlemen that had people raising their eye-brows.  Nonetheless, people must learn to not judge a book by its cover, because the Judge and his Jury (as he referred to them) could rock. 

He sang many of his songs off his cd including “What Do You Want”, “One More Drinking Song” and “Lover, Lover” and threw in a blues song by Stevie Ray Vaughn “Pride and Joy” and Garth Brooks’ “Good Ride Cowboy”, which Jerrod actually wrote for him.  Jerrod was high energy with a lot of drinking songs and interaction with the crowd.  He was at his best when he had just the microphone in his hand and was up in the front of the stage.  I look for big things from him in the future and really was impressed by his set.

After a brief intermission, the lights went low and the crowd started to scream.  Dierks has created quite a love affair with New York City after his four night stand last year and his double night run this Fall.  Of course, the Will Ferrell impersonator was in attendance (if you attended last year’s shows you know what I am talking about) and I saw a lot of familiar faces from the past NYC shows. 

Dierks hopped on stage and ripped into a new song called “Country Cold Cans” which is a high energy song with a lot of country references (from pick up trucks to trucker hats).  I expect this song will be on his upcoming album which is rumored to have a winter 2012 release. 

Irving Plaza was absolutely jammed packed while Dierks was on stage and people were going crazy during his set.  Dierks has a patented move where jumps straight up and down on stage and the crowd responded by bouncing up and down with him each and every time he hopped.  He brought out his full catalog of hits from “Feel That Fire” to “Every Mile a Memory” to “Sideways” and his energy level was at an all time high.

To my delight, he even sang a few songs off his bluegrass album such as “Up On the Ridge” and “Bottle to the Bottom” and sang a few new songs, entitled “5 1 5 0” and his newest single “Home”.  “Home” is a patriotic song, not in the flag waving way, but more of an ode to America and its natural beauty.  He was very controlled and passionate during this song and the crowd responded with a slew of “U S A” chants upon its finish. 

I have seen a countless number of country music concerts and Dierks is as good of a performer as anyone out there.  He has a natural interaction and energy that gives him a fun-loving vibe.  His career path is a bit confusing because he has the hits and persona to fill arenas, but yet he seems to stick to the mid-sized ballroom type venues.  I would love to see Dierks’ label allow him to embark on an Arena tour, he would have no problem selling well. 

Dierks finished off his encore with his two biggest hits to date “Free and Easy” and “What Was I Thinking” and the crowd applauded him for what seemed like ten minutes.  Dierks was overwhelmed with the applause and bowed with his band multiple times.  The speakers then played “Shipping Up to Boston” by the Dropkick Murphy’s and the entire crowd began to jump straight up and down “Dierks-style” and he, of course, responded as you would expect. 

On this night, in New York City, you could tell Dierks felt comfortable as if it was a second Home.  I expect him to keep coming back to the Big Apple as he really seems to have a great time on stage during his shows here.  Dierks, we await your new cd and cannot wait to have you back in the City that never sleeps. 


Jerrod Niemann

1) How Can I Be So Thirsty
2) Down In Mexico
3) Baseball Song
4) Good Ride Cowboy
5) What Do You Want
6) Buckin’ Song
7) Pride & Joy
8) Get What You Deserve
9) Everclear
10) Lover, Lover

Dierks Bentley

1) Country Cold Cans
2) Feel That Fire
3) Am I The Only One (with an extra verse)
4) Every Mile a Memory
5) Tried to Stop Your Leaving
6) Sideways
7) 5 1 5 0
8) Tried To Stop Your Leaving
9) How Am I Doing
10) Up On the Ridge
11) Bottle to the Bottom
12) Home
13) Lot of Leaving Left To Do
14) Come a Little CLoser
15) Wish You Were Here
16) Free and Easy Down the Road I Go
17) What Was I Thinking


Dierks Bentley – “Home”
Dierks Bentley: “Up On The Ridge”

Dierks Bentley – “Am I The Only One”
Jerrod Niemann – “One More Drinking Song”
Dierks Bentley – “What Was I Thinking”