Dierks Bentley digs deep into personal life on 'Riser'

Dierks Bentley (Stan Behal/QMI Agency)

Dierks Bentley (Stan Behal/QMI Agency)

Jane Stevenson, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 4:44 PM ET

The title track from country-bluegrass star Dierks Bentleyís seventh studio album, Riser, in stores Tuesday (Feb. 25), is symbolic of rising above whatever hardships life throws your way.

In the case of the 38-year-old Nashville-based married father-of-three it was major family life and death stuff.

ďLife came along and kind of delivered some subject matter,Ē said Bentley, who co-wrote six of the dozen new tracks.

ďMy dad passed away, when I just started writing the record, and then my (first) son Knox was born at the end of the record so I kind of had those as bookends. ... The album became first about my dad, this grieving thing, and then my son, ĎNow Iím going to be a dad to a boy.í So thereís all this life stuff in there... And that song really resonates just with me in a way thatís about every day average people against the odds, getting knocked down and getting back up and being a rock. Itís who I want to be, itís who I think my dad was. I think that songís kind of the cornerstone of the album to me.Ē

We caught up with Bentley while he was in Toronto recently to get the get the full story behind his eighth LP and to find out where he sees himself in the country music scene.

All seriousness aside, thereís also a new song on Riser like Drunk on a Plane?

I actually fly a small single engine, I fly it back and forth to some concerts, it helps me get me some more family time which is nice ... itís fun if youíre up for that kind of thing. So anything about planes I love. So it became this title Drunk on a Plane. Just being natural songwriters and making up this story about this guy. ĎWhy is he drunk on a plane? Well, he got stood up at a wedding. Oh my gosh.í Itís just a really fun song. ... It just acted as a nice counterweight to some of the songs that were heavier like Here on Earth, where Iím standing at my dadís gravesite, or even Riser which is heavy or Bourbon in Kentucky, itís kind of a nice release to some of those songs.

Canadian Gordie Sampson is one of the songwriters on Bourbon in Kentucky. Were you a fan of his previous hits like Carrie Underwoodís Jesus Take The Wheel?

Heís one of those guys thatís just a hot songwriter. I try to listen to the songs that are getting pitched to me without seeing who the writers are so I donít get biased. When I see his name on something, Iím always excited Ďcause heís just one of those íItí writers.

When you used Kacey Musgraves as backing vocalist on Bourbon in Kentucky did you know she would become the star she is now?

She had a lot of buzz in Nashville even back then and a unique voice and was really trying to carve out some new territory as a songwriter which is tough to do... And I was intrigued by her music and by her and I called her up or texted her or whatever and she texted me right back and said sheíd do it. I love it when people are cool like that and Iím just honoured to have her on the record. And then really excited to watch her rise and certainly winning a Grammy is really cool.

Where do you fit in within the country music scene?

Eric Church is one of my good friends. ... But also Iím friends with Ricky Skaggs and all the bluegrassers. We just did a CMT Crossroads with the band One Republic, we do each otherís songs. I do four of theirs, they do four of mine. Thatís going to air in March. Iím just a huge fan. And management was able to put it together. Turns out (One Republic frontman Ryan Tedderís) a big fan of mine. So itís really exciting. ... I love traditional country music but I was searching for new sounds. I guess itís for the fans to decide where we fit in. I just try to make the best music I can thatís the most honest and sincere.

Dierks Bentley Canadian tour dates:

July 12, Craven Country Jamboree, Craven, Sask.

Aug. 16, Havelock Country Jamboree, Havelock, Ont.

Twitter: @JaneCStevenson

jane.stevenson@sunmedia.ca


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