Speaking in terms of financial success, country singer Dierks Bentley has come a long way since releasing his first record nearly a decade ago. His latest CD Home (released February 2012) debuted near the top of the Billboard 200 chart, and the title cut (which is also the first single) is getting plenty of airplay. From a purely music business standpoint, it would seem that Dierks Bentley has “arrived.”
Buuutt…(sigh) I’m sorry. I’m just not convinced that this record deserves all the attention it’s getting.
Don’t get me wrong; there are some really good grooves on the record. Bentley does the rock-tinged country thing really well, and songs like “5-1-5-0,” “Gonna Die Young” and “In My Head” will get you moving to the beat. Fans will also love the honky-tonk, have-another-beer tunes like “Tip It On Back.”
It’s just that—well, an album themed “Home” could have gone much deeper lyrically and thematically—and this album just doesn’t. In fact, the ballads are the weakest point on the record, in my opinion. They just sort of drip with cheap sentimentality, and Bentley’s voice isn’t really geared for that kind of thing, which makes them come across even worse. Mainly, it just seems like a missed opportunity to me. This could have been a record of real substance, and instead what we’ve got here is basically your typical country fluff. It will play well on the radio and in live shows, but it doesn’t really take us anywhere we haven’t been before. (It certainly didn’t take me “home.”) Maybe I’m being too hard on the guy—maybe I’m expecting too much. It’s not a bad record-it’s just not anywhere near what it could have been.
So Home will likely be a great financial success for Bentley. It will sell concert tickets and plenty of CDs and downloads, maybe even win a few awards. But this isn’t a record that’s going to provoke a lot of deep reflection. It’s fine for throwing back a few beers or maybe taking your significant other onto the dance floor, but don’t expect a lot of substance. Just sayin’.