Saturday, February 12, 2011

Music Review: Dierks Bentley _Up On the Ridge_

I don't like contemporary country music. I get tired of the stereotypes of pickup trucks and beer and the farmer's daughter that always seems to permeate the genre. Especially because those stereotypes  are mostly true.  That's the thing, you constantly decry the applications of stereotypes to ethnic groups or cultural niches, but they wouldn't be considered stereotypes if they weren't somewhat true. A lot of the contemporary country singers just string a bunch of those images together, put a dancing beat on it, and they crank out another hit.  Nothing has been done new in that genre for many years, nothing that you can't go back to the 1960's and hear quality country music by people who probably wrote music the same way as today's artists did. 

This having been said, when Borders played Dierks Bentley's album Up on the Ridge on the overhead, I originally thought, "Oh no, another country album..." And the first song didn't alleviate my fears. Yes, it has lines about his truck and his hound dog and drinking...etc... If you listen to Dierks' other albums, that's what you'll get.  But this album... this album is different.

What Dierks takes Country music back to its roots in Bluegrass and Folk. The songs don't sound like quick hits.  To compare it with other artists... The track "Senior," sounds like Dylan on his Desire album, and the last track, about the Miners in West Virginia comes straight from Woody Guthrie's style of folk. He sings a duet with an aging Kris Kristofferson, as well as putting vocals to various bluegrass and contemporary  country artists. Every song on the album is worth listening to. I didn't omit one when syncing it over to my MP3 player. And it's very rare for me to do that. I was also pleased when I saw he was nominated for three Grammy's this year.  He well deserves it for this album.  If only he was as popular as his contemporaries, so that everyone could hear quality music.

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