Dierks Bentley is known for his passionate ballads and fun, rolling tunes.
Up until this point, he hasn’t been known as a bluegrass artist – at least not to the common country music fan. But Dierks is set to release is next studio album Up On The Ridge. The album is a set of songs set to bluegrass music. Dierks told Brian McCollomthe Detroit Free Press that he first heard bluegrass in a Nashville bar when he was 19. As the article states, the rootsy direction is a risk for Bentley. His first two albums sold extremely well. Up to this point his singles have found the number one slot with expert consistency. So why would an artist with a successful formula want to change directions and put out a bluegrass album?
For Dierks, it appears he wanted to expand his creativity as a country artist. Successful artists can milk a formula for a long time, but this strategy runs the risk of growing stale. Tastes change and those that aren’t able to keep changing are often left behind. The risk of doing nothing is often higher than the risk of broadening your creativity and expanding your range.
The album is set to be released by Capital Records Nashville on Tuesday June 8th, 2010. Strong reviews are already pouring in for the set. Larry Rodgers of The Arizona Repulic gave Up On The Ridge four out of five stars. In his review – Dierks Bentley: Up On The Ridge – Rodgers said that “After four strong albums that didn’t stray too far from his winning mix of country and rock, Bentley has succeeded in breaking free of preconceptions with this welcome detour.”
It has to feel good for Dierks to have positive reaction to his new music. It takes a leap of faith to go into the unknown, wondering how your audience will receive your new creative direction. The ultimate test, as always, will be how the fans react to the music. But maybe Bentley’s circle of die hard fans will not be as taken aback by the new direction. As Geoffrey Himes mentions in his Washington Post article – Dierks Bentley veers into bluegrass territory on new album Up On The Ridge – that Dierks has included at least one bluegrass song on each of his previous albums.
The album is getting tons of press and that is good new for Bentley. He’s taking a new path with his career and the reaction will determine the direction he takes in the future. The most recent example of a risky album was Brad Paisley with Play. That album was mostly instrumental (although it was criticized for having a few regular Paisley tunes). Play sold fairly well, but not as well as Paisley’s previous albums. Paisley reverted back to his normal album formula for his next release American Saturday Night.
It’s positive for artists to expand their creative direction. It is a big risk, but sometimes not changing is an even bigger risk.
How do you feel about Dierks’ new bluegrass direction?