Personnel: Dan Dugmore (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, dobro); Charlie Worsham (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, mandolin, ukulele); Ilya Toshinskiy (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, mandolin); Ross Copperman (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, keyboards, programming, background vocals); Kenny Greenberg (acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Jaren Johnston (acoustic guitar, banjo, background vocals); Bryan Sutton (acoustic guitar, mandolin); Brian Layson (electric guitar, banjo, mandolin); Ryan Tyndell (electric guitar, mandolin, keyboards, percussion, background vocals); Jedd Hughes (electric guitar); Dan Hochhalter (banjo, fiddle); Rob Hajacos (fiddle); Jonathan Yudkin (strings); Mickey Raphael (harmonica); Jason Lehning (Hammond b-3 organ, keyboards, synthesizer); Craig Wright, Fred Eltringham (drums, percussion); F. Reid Shippen (percussion); Kacey Musgraves, Chris Stapleton, Hillary Lindsey, Jessi Alexander, Jon Randall, Sam Ashworth (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: F. Reid Shippen.
Recording information: Blackbird Studios; Ocean Way Studios; The Red Room, Nashville, TN.
Photographer: Nino Mu¤oz.
For a decade, every single Dierks Bentley release placed at least in Billboard's Country Top 20, usually making it to the Top Ten. That streak came to an end in 2013, when "Bourbon in Kentucky" -- the first single from his in-the-works seventh album, Riser, and a duet with 2013's hot star Kacey Musgraves to boot -- stiffed, going no further than 40 on the country charts. Such a thing doesn't happen to a big country star, so action needed to be taken: Bentley revised Riser, adding some levity to an album that nevertheless remains highly contemplative. As Bentley notes in his brief liner notes for the album, he made Riser during a period when his father died and his first son was born, so the fact so much of the album is reflective is little surprise, but Riser remains subdued even as Dierks loosens up: "Drunk on a Plane" isn't raucous; it's a diligent march that suits its tale of post-breakup revelry. Apart from "Sounds of Summer" and "Back Porch," two not-bad attempts to reckon with bro-country, this is all mature and measured stadium-sized modern country, with the guitars not twanging but echoing like the Edge. Riser isn't an outsider's manifesto, it's the work of a guy taking stock as he's facing middle age, reconciling his dreams with his reality, finding strength in his family and the music he loves. With all these big issues, it's no wonder that Riser doesn't quite feel brimming with lighthearted singles, but it's a sturdy, often absorbing record from a singer who is determined to be in it for the long haul. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine