The 2nd best country music record of 2014
Dierks Bentley – Riser
Most of country’s most famous men kept scraping the bottom of the barrel in 2014, and for the most part Nashville’s power players kept waving their pom-poms, pretending that there was value in Luke Bryan’s twerking or Cole Swindell’s predatory lyrics. Fortunately, Dierks Bentley aims much higher than most of his cohorts. On Riser, he strikes a sturdy balance between pop-country sensibility (Drunk on a Plane is infused with just enough sadness to elevate it above typical party tunes) and authentic country rock that’s both accessible and moving. Sure, lead single I Hold On begins with a truck, but it quickly evolves into a deeply felt song about commitment – and Bentley’s raspy groan helps sell the whole thing. Bentley sings with actual conviction, a quality that makes Riser one of the finest mainstream releases of the year.