"Going Country" Helps Artists Go Country?
Dierks Bentley has just unleashed the first single off his upcoming album ‘The Mountain’ titled ‘Woman Amen’, an Everest-sized anthem dedicated to his wife, Cassidy.
Written by Bentley, Josh Kear, and Ross Copperman (Bentley’s frequent writing partners), the new direction of Bentley’s sound may come to a pleasant surprise to those not familiar with his latest musical endeavor. Similar to Tim Mcgraw’s adventurous project back in 2004, ‘Live Like You Were Dying’, a record in which McGraw wrote entirely in the mountains of upstate New York, Bentley’s taken his recording equipment to the mountains of Telluride, Colorado; thus inspiring the simplistic title of the record.
The drums ring out as if they were played by falling boulders of an avalanche, the guitars shine through the vast wilderness as if it were the light of a sunrise and Bentley’s vocals make him sound like the mountain king, yodeling a catchy chorus chant about his ever burning love of his partner.
This is a new environment for Bentley, one that can prove quite successful, but does writing in a new environment help Bentley’s writing or is this whole ‘mountain gig’ just a PR stunt to help promote a new record.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen an artist travel around their comfort zone to work on a new record or on their skills as musicans. As mentioned before, McGraw had the same idea back in 2004, The Foo Fighters recorded in a different city for every song on their record ‘Sonic Highways’, and if you go back to the 1930’s, arguably the greatest jazz musician of all-time, Charlie Parker, locked himself away in a woodshed for nearly a year to work on his chops and came out as one of the greatest players of his time.
When you listen to these artist’s work before and after they’ve taken on “the journey”, you’ll find that their inner sound hasn’t changed that much, however the level of substance, emotionally and objectively, rises a great amount. This absolutely applies to Bentley’s new direction.
Some of the lyrics on ‘Woman Amen’ are some of the most down to Earth lyrics Bentley has ever put pen on paper for. “Every night I should be on my knees / Lord knows how luck I am / I'll never say it near enough / Thank God for this woman amen," Bentley sings. He’s written down his own little prayer in the song, showing off Bentley’s sensitivity and spirituality.
When comparing ‘Woman Amen’ to Bentley’s singles off his last record ‘Black’, there’s really something worth noticing. The subject matter of some of Bentley’s songs like ‘Different For Girls’ are dark and have an appropriate approach to them, however Bentley’s mentioning of bars, texting, and punching of walls shows how much the effect of the modern world went into his songwriting.
Bentley mentions in ‘Woman Amen’ “the moon and the stars up above”, “the night that she gave this drifter's heart a home” and “this world has a way of shaking your faith”. These are lyrics with mountainous vibes and puts you in Bentley’s rock climbing shoes. He takes you on a hike in just three minutes with music and lyrics that do an excellent job immersing you in his world.
Bentley told Rolling Stone Country "I don't want anything that sounds like anything on the radio.' And Josh threw that title out and I go, 'Oh damn, he gave me exactly what I asked for.'" Bentley is describing the project as a combination of his 2010 “rootsy” effort ’Up on the Ridge’ and his latest pop influenced record ’Black’. Just from listening to the lead single, I know exactly what he’s talking about. The music alone you could find on just about any country record, but what makes this so different is the maturity in the lyrics and the context they are being told in.
Based off the chills Bentley’s single has given me, I think we have a lot to look forward to in the next couple months leading up to Bentley’s release. With a date yet to be determined, but rumored to be early this year, ’The Mountain’ is something we can surely expect to bring us the combination of mountain music and pop flare.