Mitchell: Bentley back to radio-friendly country

This is Dierks Bentley’s sixth album and every one of them has hit the top 10 of the country charts.

This is Dierks Bentley’s sixth album and every one of them has hit the top 10 of the country charts.

But last year Bentley took a big gamble by releasing an alt-bluegrass album Up On The Ridge that sold well to his hard core fan base but didn’t register with the broader based country scene. The bluegrass effort garnered a couple of minor hits that scraped into the top 30 but it marked the first time Bentley did not have a bona fide country smash.

As a result he has returned to more contemporary radio-friendly music on Home, an album that has topped the country charts this week while his new single and title track song is zooming up the charts.

The song Home is a tad sentimental but sounds heartfelt as a minor key anthem where a country song gets about as topical as it ever does with the lyrics “no we are not the same but that’s what makes us strong” which might be something of a challenge in the red states.

The obvious next single here is the boys-night-out rocker Am I The Only One, while the warm and romantic duet with Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town fame is another chart contender.

Bentley tries a little country cornpone on Diamonds Make Babies (Bentley has noticed they seem to follow?) while the loopy and near novelty song 5-1-5-0 references Ozzy Osbourne and his metal classic Crazy Train.

The closing song, Thinking Of You, is a credible but sentimental love song to hearth and home where, after a few moments of silence, there is a short phantom version of a young Bentley offspring singing along to pop’s acoustic guitar.

Old fans who didn’t much care for the bluegrass of Bentley’s last offering will find plenty to enjoy here but I got the sense that this disc just isn’t as strong as past releases.


Amos Lee: As The Crow Flies (Bluenote/EMI)

You can call this new six-song mini album As The Crow Flies an adjunct release to Amos Lee’s album last year titled Mission Bell. All the songs were recorded during those sessions and I am not sure why they were not just added to that long player, but committed fans of Lee’s singer/songwriter mojo will enjoy these half dozen, all original tunes.

These are mostly all acoustic settings where Lee sounds soulful and sweet on the ballad Simple Things like his home and wife that keep him grounded.

The opening and mournful The Darkness kicks off this mini EP with a Dylan-like delivery where Lee brightens up near the end of the songs as day is dawning and the abyss of night no longer plaques him.

There is one breezy track here with the late Byrds-like Say Goodbye where ace session guitarist Greg Leisz channels the late, great Clarence White.

The closing There I Go Again is slightly more rootsy reminding me of The Band in more rustic mode. Again, six fine little bon bons for the big Amos Lee fan.


Simone Dinnerstein: Something Almost

Being Said (Sony Classical)

True story: After I covered the last Simone Dinnerstein classical piano album, my wife gave it to a friend of hers, along with a few other new CDs, who was battling a serious disease and who was also a big classical piano buff, being a player herself.

When my wife later visited her friend she pointed out the Dinnerstein album as something that really impressed her and made her feel a lot better. Later I discovered that Dinnerstein often plays in convalescent and retirement homes on her own personal down time when not recording or touring and that many have reported healing powers or health improvements and feeling better.

Anyway, on this new album Dinnerstein plays strictly unaccompanied classical music from the Bach and Schubert repertoire where she, as usual, is getting fantastic notices from the classical music cognoscente who are way more qualified to comment on this than I am.

And if there are more ethereal powers to Dinnerstein’s playing then I will leave it up to famed British poet Philip Larkin whose refrain gives this album its title with “The trees are coming into leaf, Like something almost being said.”


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