Review – Dierks Bentley’s “Riser” Rises Above The Rest


I don’t think it’s a big secret to anyone that Dierks Bentley has been one of the very few in mainstream country music who consistently puts out quality music. Yet I feel like he’s still overlooked and under-the-radar. His 2014 album Riser was a very solid album full of inspiring songs, including a Country Perspective 2014 Song of the Year candidate in “Here On Earth.” It went on to be nominated for a Grammy for Best Country Album this past year. It was hands down the best of the nominations and should have won. Even some of the hokier and less serious songs (“Drunk On A Plane” comes to mind) Bentley releases aren’t that bad. So it kind of baffles me that Bentley doesn’t get a lot of praise. But I’m one to talk, as it was brought to my attention that Bentley had yet to be reviewed on here. Well that changes now, as today I review Bentley’s album title track and current single “Riser.”

This song to me is one of three gems off the album that are a must-listen (the others are “Here On Earth” and “I Hold On”). So when I saw Bentley released “Riser” as a single I was elated. It’s a very well-written song about a man who isn’t afraid to back down from challenges the world throws at him or his woman. He takes every challenge head-on without fear or worry. The protagonist is a guy who never gives up, which makes him extremely likable and easy to cheer for. It’s an inspiring song that makes it easy to connect with from the very first listen. Speaking of the great lyrics, credit goes to Steve Moakler and Travis Meadows. That last name should ring a bell in listeners’ heads, as Meadows has written a lot of quality songs, such as Jake Owen’s “What We Ain’t Got” and Blackberry Smoke’s “Pretty Little Lie.” As Bentley said in an interview with Rolling Stone, it was important to him to release this song as a single:

“When I first heard that song, wow. It really hit me hard. Not only did we know we were going to record it, but we thought it’d be the cornerstone of the record,” says Bentley. “You hear a song like that and you have to meet the guy behind it. And Travis has been through a lot — he’s lived and breathed and died with that song. I feel honored to have it.”

While Bentley recently released “Say You Do” as his new single, he hopes that his album will have enough legs to warrant shipping “Riser” to radio. “I have a lot of respect for those guys who let me record their songs. I want the whole world to hear it and do the song justice, and give that song as big a platform as possible. Especially a song like ‘Riser,'” he says. “It has been and really could be so impactful on people’s lives.”

If you haven’t read that feature on Travis Meadows I linked above, it’s a must-read. For Bentley to show so much care for a song that clearly had a lot of thought behind it, it shows that he’s not only an artist of the people, but a good person too. I’m sure his label wasn’t that thrilled to get behind this song as a single, but Bentley’s passion pushed this to be a single. It should also be pointed out that the instrumentation on this song is fantastic too, with plenty of earthy steel guitar licks throughout it.

“Riser” is exactly what I want out of a country song: quality lyrics you can connect with and pure country instrumentation. I think I can speak on the behalf of disenfranchised traditional country music fans everywhere in saying, thank you Dierks Bentley for caring. Not a lot of mainstream country artists care about releasing quality music nowadays and are purely in it for the money and fame. Dierks at the end of the day still considers the roots of the genre. Currently this song hasn’t been rising up the airplay chart very fast, but I think Dierks and his label are content on riding with this song for a while. I think it can reach the top 30 of the chart by the end of September and I think it ultimately has a good run. Regardless of what happens, I have a great appreciation for Bentley and “Riser.” It’s one of the best singles released to country radio this year.

Grade: 10/10

23 thoughts on “Review – Dierks Bentley’s “Riser” Rises Above The Rest

  1. Raymond September 2, 2015 / 11:14 am

    Finally! So happy this got a review. It’s always hard for me to say my favorite Dierks single as this Long Trip Alone and Home are all real close.

    Dierks truly deserves more recognition I mean come on besides Video for Drunk On A Plane (have you checked the video out) Dierks hasn’t won really any awards.

    Question if Riser and Burning House are in the Top 30 will it be a tie for Best Song.

    I am gonna enjoy this while I can because I’m getting a nagging sense Dierks will sell out next album.

    As for this song what can I say Dierks gives one of the best vocal performances I have ever heard from him. The song is catchy and not in a dumbed-down fashion. Also so well written.

    Dierks Bentley Riser Grade 10/10. If this makes Top 20 I will be content.


    • Josh Schott September 2, 2015 / 11:22 am

      I highly doubt Dierks will sell out. He will continue to use his current formula, which is have one or two songs for radio lime “Drunk on a Plane” and then the rest will be solid. He’s smart enough not to fix something that isn’t broken.

      Not sure. Will have to wait and see when it hits the top 30.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Derek Hudgin September 2, 2015 / 11:32 am

        Dierks has the musical balance down perfectly, which is why I enjoy “Drunk on a Plane.” Sure it’s a silly song, but it’s on an album with songs like “Bourbon in Kentucky”, “I Hold On”, “Riser” etc. Many of his albums strike this same balance of thoughtless, party type songs mixed with quality, insightful country songs. I’m with you, Josh, that he won’t derive from that formula for a full album.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Raymond September 2, 2015 / 11:59 am

        It’s just a sense I have. But I am hopeful.

        Does anyone have any news if he’s working on a new album yet. Any upcoming co-writes or titles.


  2. Kevin Davis September 2, 2015 / 11:20 am

    Of course, I agree with everything in this review. If you haven’t seen it yet, here is a wonderful performance of “Riser” by Travis Meadows:

    I love Travis’ personality. He’s just a really solid guy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Megan Conley September 2, 2015 / 11:59 am

    Great review! Dierks Bentley is one of my favorites, and he deserves far more recognition. I agree, I don’t think he will sell out, he doesn’t need to. He cares about the music and his fans, and that is why even his novelty songs like “Drunk on a Plane” are far better than other songs on mainstream radio…you can tell he cares about quality just as much as airplay, and he seems to have found a great balance between the two.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Megan Conley September 2, 2015 / 12:07 pm

      Also, if you get a chance to see him live, you should take it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lorenzo September 2, 2015 / 12:26 pm

    there’s no doubt that this song is stellar, and there’s no doubt that it should be heard by the largest possible range of people. But I think its release as a single has been a quite stupid move, and I will explain why:
    1) dierks is coming from a #1 hit with Say You Do, a slow tempo song. Riser is even slower and way more stripped down.
    2) the lyrics of this song are related and similar to I Hold On’s.
    3) Riser was released in June, and radio barely plays slow songs during the summertime.

    to me this release isn’t very appropriate because radio will kill this song and its failure won’t let that many people hear it, while a more radio friendly single could’ve been another big hit and give Dierks some more exposure.

    having said that, I really hope Riser will be a #1 hit because it’s by far the best single on country radio right now!


    • Josh Schott September 2, 2015 / 12:53 pm

      While your logic is spot on, I will point out that I think Dierks and his label are content to play the long game with this single. I don’t see him releasing a new single until next January, so I think they’ll let this ride at radio for a while. Just a hunch. We all saw how Randy Houser’s “Like A Cowboy” rode on the chart forever before finally rising to the top and I think the same approach is being taken here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nadia Lockheart September 2, 2015 / 2:13 pm

        Not to mention Bentley’s previous single, “Say You Do”.

        That had a rather slow start as well, but soldiered to #1 after 34 weeks on the chart.

        I don’t know if this will fare as well, but I’m just thrilled Bentley is sticking to his guns. He made it clear that his label did NOT want him to release this, but he did it anyway. That is why t is anyone’s guess where this peaks.


    • Zack September 2, 2015 / 7:24 pm

      Perhaps the adversity this song will face as it “rises” up the charts is a testament to the true irony of the song? I think it’ll take time, but I do think Riser will see success, maybe not necessarily #1, but at least top 10


  5. Lisandro Berry-Gaviria September 2, 2015 / 4:55 pm

    This is an excellent song, though I think some of the rhymes in the chorus and bridge are a little corny; it doesn’t completely blow me away, although I love the stripped-down production. I’d give it a 9/10.

    I have to say, I agree that it was a mistake to release this song to radio. “Pretty Girls” or “Sounds Of Summer” would’ve probably done better (I’m not complaining, though). And “Say You Do” entered the Top 30 of the airplay chart two and a half months after being released, so yes it did have a rather slow start…but “Riser” has now been released for two and a half months as well, and it’s at #41. So even compared to “Say You Do,” “Riser” has had a very slow start. I know Bentley and his team will probably be content to push this for awhile, as you said Josh, but even “Like A Cowboy” didn’t make it to #1 despite spending 40 weeks on the chart. I doubt this will hit #1.


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