Album Review – Dierks Bentley’s ‘Black’

Dierks Bentley Black

What were you thinking with this album, Dierks? That’s all I could say as I listened to his new album Black. For the last few years traditional country fans have come to appreciate Dierks Bentley as one of the few artists in popular country to actually keep it country and deliver compelling music all at once. It’s probably a toss-up between Bentley and Tim McGraw for who has put out the most quality singles to radio recently (with the exception of “Somewhere On A Beach.” Bentley is also coming off his previous album Riser, which I thoroughly enjoyed and deservedly received a lot of critical acclaim and fan adulation. One of the things I’ve always praised about Bentley is his knack to balance quality and mainstream appeal. On this album it goes completely out the window in favor of…well I don’t know how to describe the overall approach to this album. I can already tell you up front that Black does not come close to matching Riser or even Home before it. After hearing the first half of this album, I almost stopped and refused to hear the rest. But then I gave it a chance and really didn’t feel like I got much more worth out of it either. This album is a different animal that sees Bentley stray far from his usual sound, something you really need to hear for yourself.

The album title track begins the album and right away you hear uncharacteristic drum play you’re not used to hearing in a Dierks Bentley song. It’s a pre-cursor of what you’re about to hear and it isn’t good. It’s a love song with a cheap hook and a pop, Adult Contemporary production that just doesn’t fit Dierks at all. Overall it’s just a really stiff song that I find hard to listen to. I can pretty much repeat everything I just said about “Black” for the next song “Pick Up” too. The production just doesn’t fit Dierks, but I’ll say the theme is somewhat better fleshed out. Even the theme, a song about calling a woman over and over hoping for the right answer, isn’t fully realized and relies too much on repeating the hook. The only redeeming song on the first half of Black is “I’ll Be The Moon,” where Dierks is joined by Maren Morris. It’s a cheating song where the woman is sneaking around with a guy in the night and wondering how they should handle things before eventually deciding that her significant other can be the sun and the guy she’s cheating with be the moon. Morris and Bentley sound great together and it’s one of the best on the album for sure. I could definitely see this as a future single, although the polarizing nature of the song (kind of saying cheating is alright) could prevent it too.

“What The Hell Did I Say” made me want to say, “What the hell did I just hear?” after listening to it. The production is too loud and overbearing and definitely not country. The song is about getting drunk and making mistakes. But really it’s just a lot of loud noise with clunky lyrics attempting to tell a story. Writers Ross Copperman, Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins deserve the blame for this song being so bad, along with Copperman again for producing it. Next up is the lead single of the album, “Somewhere On A Beach.” It’s complete garbage, as I already ran down through in a previous review. I have nothing else to add to it, except I hope I never have to hear it again. The most generic song of the album hands down goes to “Freedom.” I’m not sure what I loathe more about it: the cheap rip-off version of production off a Lumineers song or the fact the lyrics take inspiration from a summer Walmart commercial. It’s such a blatantly bad song with nothing redeeming about it and almost made me not want to hear the rest of the album. Bentley clearly lowered himself on this song and he should feel bad for it.

Bentley goes the slow-jam, R&B route on “Why Do I Feel.” So once again the production really stymies a song on this album. The song itself is not bad per se; it’s about Bentley wondering why he keeps questioning his great relationship he’s currently in. He has suspicions about her, but no proof. So he’s trying to drive these bad thoughts away. So the song is kind of okay, but the production keeps it from being good. “Roses And A Time Machine” is where we start to hear more of the “good side” to Dierks reappearing on this album. It’s a country rock song about a man wanting to build a time machine to turn back time and get the woman who walked out on him back. On every album from Dierks we usually get one song where we see his more humorous, silly side and this is that song on Black. It works better that I thought it would and sounds better each time I hear it. As long as you’re willing to forgive a little bit of a rock influence, this song is actually pretty good.

This is followed by “All The Way To Me,” a song where Bentley sings about all of the little good things that get to him in life. It’s supposed to be a more vulnerable song, as Bentley opens up about the things that make him feel something. It’s just an okay song that could have been something more. Americana/rock artist Elle King joins Bentley on “Different For Girls.” The song looks at a breakup from the perspective of a girl and how they handle them. It says that girls don’t react in the same way guys do and that they don’t resort to hookups and drinking excessively like guys do. The song also says guys can act all tough after a breakup and forget about the relationship, while a girl can’t. Well this is all well and good if we all still looked at society through the lens of social consciousness of the 1950s. I really wanted to like this song, but the way it stereotypes all girls and guys is just too ridiculous to overlook. It paints guys to look like drunken, uncaring pigs while girls are emotional train wrecks who never resort to drinking or hookups to cope with breakups. It’s a shame this is a single and everyone will praise it for it’s “thoughtful” look through the eyes of a girl in a breakup. This song is nothing but a mess.

“Mardi Gras” sees Bentley incorporating a jazzy, bluesy horns sound into the album. While guest Trombone Shorty’s horn play sounds great, it’s wasted on yet another dud song on this album. While the instrumentation on this song is vibrant and engaging, the song is the exact opposite. I’ll let you guess what the song is about. It shouldn’t be too hard to deduce. Dierks Bentley spends so much time using different analogies and comparisons for his woman on this album that by the time I reach “Light It Up,” I’m completely unfazed by it. It’s just another song and I’m left wondering how much left I have to endure. Never thought I would say this about a Dierks album. Black comes to a conclusion with “Can’t Be Replaced.” Finally we have the type of song I’ve come to expect from Dierks Bentley and falls much in the same vein as the songs on his previous album Riser. The song sees Dierks singing about the sentimental things in life that you can’t put a price on and can never be replaced. The song has a lot of heart and features the warm, modern country sound we’re used to hearing from Bentley. It’s also great to hear Bentley sort of reflect on how far he’s come in his life and how thankful he is for his wife and kids. “Can’t Be Replaced” also leaves me wondering why we had to endure an entire album mostly full of bad music before we finally get something great from Bentley.

Black is an underwhelming, disoriented mess. There’s no other way to put it. It has very little redemption and a lot of mediocre at best songs. Bentley clearly wanted to do something different and unfortunately for him it just doesn’t work for the most part. It appears he wanted to go for something darker and edgier, but you really can’t do this when the production is too loud most of the time and the lyrics are written by the same people who churn out the bad music we hear from mainstream country all the time. I can tell you one thing: producer Ross Copperman absolutely dropped the ball on this one. I can’t believe he produced Riser. You could have picked anyone else and I think they would have done a better job than Copperman. But then again I don’t think Dave Cobb could have saved some of these dreadful songs. I spend a lot of time comparing this album to Riser, even though I didn’t plan on it, but it’s for good reason. It just highlighted Dierks’ strengths so much more and to give you an idea of the quality gap between the two albums, I would probably take “Drunk on a Plane” over most of the songs on Black. My advice is to listen to “I’ll Be The Moon,” “Roses And A Time Machine,” “Can’t Be Replaced” and just skip the rest of this album. Black is without a doubt the worst album I’ve heard from Dierks Bentley.

Grade: 4/10



32 thoughts on “Album Review – Dierks Bentley’s ‘Black’

  1. Ron June 3, 2016 / 11:09 am

    The problem is it will still manage to yield 3 to 4 #1 hits and be a strong seller and noone will care if its lackluster


  2. Austin Lee June 3, 2016 / 12:38 pm

    I was really excited for this record to come out since it was over 2 years since riser came out and it was incredible but black was a total let down. Nothing about it was Dierks. I have a feeling they gave him the reigns on riser and he had 2 songs in riser and bourbon in Kentucky that charted poorly and kinda took it away this time. The only song I actually like is can’t be replaced. Hopefully in 2 years we have better to say about Dierks new record.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Harriett June 3, 2016 / 12:48 pm

    I’ve read a lot of similar interpretations of the lyrics on Different For Girls. I must be way off base but from the first time I heard it, I heard it as more of a commentary on how society expects men and women to handle heartbreak. A man is expected and encouraged to move on immediately and never fully process or deal with their emotions. A woman would be looked at way differently if, instead of moping for days, she went out the next night, got drunk and hooked up with a random guy.


    • Nadia Lockheart June 3, 2016 / 10:02 pm

      I feel your interpretation is undermined when there’s no indication Bentley is singing this with a wink or a wry speck of sarcasm, along with Elle King.

      The intense use of gendered pronouns and juxtapositions also weakens this theory, the way I look at it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Harriett June 3, 2016 / 10:39 pm

        And I respect your opinion. It happens not to be mine. Lyrics mean different things to different people based on their experiences.


  4. lorenzofloris96 June 3, 2016 / 2:19 pm

    I couldn’t agree more Josh, this album is a total failure. ‘I’ll be The Moon” and ‘Can’t be replaced’ to me are the best songs. I agree that ‘Different for Girls’ sounds stereotypical, but I give it a pass because I think its intent was to talk about a girl in particular: it tries to draw comparisions to ‘She Don’t Love You’ by Eric Paslay but ultimately falls short.
    The rest of the album feels so generic it hurts. These damn rock/pop sounds are annoying as hell, which is strange because Dierks used to balance a little bit of country rock with neotraditional sounds: think about How Am I Doin’, In My Head, Soon as I Can and others. Even the slower songs don’t work well: the title track is not that bad but it sounds so forced and quite generic, moreover it’s nowhere near ‘Breathe You In’, ‘Come a Little Closer’ or ‘Say You Do’.
    The instrumentation is gone: no steel guitar, no fiddle, just some digitally-edited banjo and dobro sounds here and there.
    Leave “I’ll Be the Moon’ and “Can’t Be Replaced” alone and there’s no rawness, and Dierks’ rawness is what made him great in the first place: songs like Draw Me a Map, Hurt Somebody, Damn These Dreams, Trying to Stop Your Leaving have that kind of magic.
    Today’s mainstream country is a desert, it seems like we just can’t trust anybody anymore.
    I’m sure Maddie&Tae, William Michael Morgan, Josh Turner, Jon Pardi, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, Mo Pitney and George Strait will still put out great efforts, but what really scares me is that I was sure about Dierks as well. I was sure about Easton Corbin. I was sure about Chris Young. I was sure about Joe Nichols. I was sure about Gary Allan. But Mainstream Country music never fails to baffle me.
    This album is a 3/10 to me.


  5. Jason June 3, 2016 / 4:45 pm

    I really wanted to like this album, and contemplated pre-ordering it until “Pick Up” came out. Even though I enjoyed three of the first 5 songs to come out, I decided to wait until the release, and now I’m glad I did.

    “Black” is actually pretty solid. I tend to enjoy stripped-back songs, and the drums are definitely way too stiff, but otherwise it’s solid. Dierks is a great performer, and this song showcases it: the delivery is fantastic, and I love the slight roughness in Dierks’s voice. After this, though, the album drops off a cliff. “Pick Up” relies too much on just repeating it’s title, making it feel like the writers thought this was clever, when it’s actually the same rehashed shit that grates on the nerves quite quickly. The wall of noise making the instruments indistinguishable doesn’t help. “I’ll Be The Moon” features some good harmonies and great instrumentation, but Dierks and Maren really don’t come out of the song looking good. “What The Hell Did I Say” seems like an obvious single choice at this point, but I find that this type of song is right in Dierks’s wheelhouse. The song doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it benefits the song a lot. What doesn’t benefit the song is, again, repeating the title ad nauseum. Next, Somewhere On A Beach. The guitar is at least interesting, but unlike the previous song, which played with a bit of humor, the lyrics are delivered with a straight face here. That becomes a problem when the lines often consist of half-finished thoughts like “She got a body, and she’s naughty” or “I’m gettin’ some, ‘gettin some”. From here, the album delves into boring, subpar songs that have no impact whatsoever, save for “Can’t Be Replaced”.


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Annabelle June 3, 2016 / 4:58 pm

    Your review is spot on. I’ve been a Dierks fan for years and have all his albums but won’t be buying this one. When “Some Where on a Beach” was released and I saw him performing it, truly I just sighed. It was so not him and truly I thought he looked so uncomfortable singing it, much like the Youtube videos of him singing his song “Black”. Really, I hoped that this was some sort of mid life crisis for him with “Some Where on a Beach” but sadly after listening to this album, I really think that this is Dierks reaching for that Country Music A lister status that his buddies Luke and Aldean seem to have acquired putting out the same kind of generic mainstream bland popish songs.

    As for “Some Where on a Beach”, I can’t say anything nice, so I shouldn’t. It raced up the charts and radio (who absolutely love Dierks….which I used to be okay with) have over played that song to the point that it may drive me to insanity if I hear it again. Truly I was excited when it got to #1 because that meant that maybe a new single would come out and I’d never have to hear it again. Well that doesn’t seem to be the case so far. As for the new single, I was really hoping for “I’ll be the Moon” but I agree that the theme might not fit radio. It sounds a lot like the Dierks I’ve listen to all of these years and it was a duet with an actual country singer. The new single is questionable and is a duet with a pop singer who I can barely understand when listening to the song.

    As for the song “Black”, I had great hopes that it would be this albums version of “Come a little Closer” or “I Wanna make you close your eyes” but it doesn’t come close. It sounds like something Chase Rice would sing. And I’m not sure why but when he sings “make my world go black”, all I seem to hear is “this is how we roll” by FLA GA line. Does anyone else make that connection?

    “Can’t be replaced” was truly amazing with the lyrics, had that depth and emotion that country radio really needs right now. The “woahs” did however make me think of Sam Hunt’s “Make you miss me”. I hope that it finds it’s way to radio at some point, but as with ‘Riser”, that doesn’t seem to be what the modern listeners want to hear or radio wants to play.

    Love you Dierks, but can’t buy into this album. Truly think he is a good guy, but I think that his career has become something that just isn’t about the music anymore, and once you hit that, not sure if it can change. So for now, “I’ll hold on” to my old Dierks albums and hope that in two years the music that I’ve loved from him the past 10 years will not be completely lost while he is trying to keep up with this new modern mainstream drive for success.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Shoshana Agus-Kleinman June 3, 2016 / 6:18 pm

    4 mainstream male artists put out albums this month, and none are actually very good (which pretty much sums up country music. I’d probably rank them Blake > Dierks > Keith > Cole

    I honestly hate “different for girls” maybe my complete and total hatred is based on part on the interviews he gave about it, where he talked about it being for the strong women in his life…and then it’s a complete stereotype mess about heartbreak. But the stereotyping itself also pisses me off.


    • Jason June 3, 2016 / 7:15 pm

      Cole>Dierks>Keith=Blake for me.

      Why Cole on top? Well, it was a pretty abysmal month XD. But in all fairness, there were some songs that I enjoyed; I never would’ve expected him to make “No Can Left Behind” or “Gettin’ Forgotten”. Although some of the insufferable traits of Cole show up (for example, odd out of place rap), I would say he has definitely improved drastically as a performer, at least from what I heard on the album. The writing takes a small step up, and aside from “Flatliner” and “Hoppin'”, there were no songs I would outright call bad.

      Dierks, well, boring shit, aside from “Black”, “I’ll Be The Moon” which still comes off as sleazy, “What The Hell Did I Say”, and “Can’t Be Replaced”. I expect bad lead off singles from Dierks at this point, but the real warning signs came when “Pick Up” was released. That song was so bad, I decided not to pre-order the album because of it. I’m glad I did.

      Keith Urban released some soulless wall of noise that somehow spans 13 songs, yet none of them are memorable in the slightest, save for possibly “That Could Still Be Us”.

      Blake Shelton’s release either makes me bored to tears or outright disgusted. The whole front half of the album reeks of bitterness. It’s simply unpleasant to listen to because of the context he himself wants us to listen to it in. If this had no relevance to anything in Blake’s personal life, it wouldn’t be great, but it’d still probably be best of the month. At least the back half of the album has “Green” and “Savior’s Shadow”.

      To sum it up, this month sucked. Here’s to hoping Maren Morris lives up to the hype with “Hero” (haven’t listened to it yet).


      • seak05 June 3, 2016 / 9:16 pm

        I listened to MM’s today:

        Let me just start by saying it’s miles better than any of the 4 albums we were discussing. In general, I think that mainstream women’s country artists are way better than the men. I suspect that’s in part due to them assuming that country radio will be a battle, and therefore not catering as much to its tastes. And Maren is clearly talented.

        That said I was a little disappointed, in part because I already have the EP & the album repeats a lot of it, and are a lot of the better songs. Plus some of the songs sound repetitive. From a business P.O.V. it makes sense to put out the album while My Church is hot, and include the EP, but from a musical POV I don’t think it made for the strongest album.

        Brandy Clark’s new album is out soon as well, and Cassaddee Pope has a new EP. I really hope we start to see more women break through in country music.

        (as an aside on Blake’s album I really only found SGAWW bitter, the other early songs seemed more wistful/sad & country music has always allowed for angry bitter break-up songs. The problem I have with it, is that it’s trying to be clever rather than good.)


        • Nadia Lockheart June 3, 2016 / 11:50 pm

          I don’t consider “Hero” country whatsoever for the most part, but I agree it’s a mostly damn enjoyable debut album that’s superior to all four of the aforementioned males who have just released albums.

          To my ears, “Hero” sounds like a blend of Bonnie Raitt’s bluesy soul, Sheryl Crow’s eclecticism and Rihanna’s attitude. Again, I do have just as much an issue with her album being marketed as a country album as I have Keith Urban’s latest effort. But as an album itself, I have mostly positive things to say about it when a review is written up here for it.

          It just sounds like an authentic, age-appropriate effort. I’ll protest just as loudly as Josh, Derek and Trigger if “80’s Mercedes” winds up a #1 hit on the Hot Country Songs chart: because it is clearly a pop song. But it’s definitely an awesome and infectious pop song that I’ll shamelessly consider one of my summer jams, and most the rest of the album is the same story.

          Liked by 1 person

    • couldibe June 13, 2016 / 7:01 pm

      “It’s different for girls” is the song I mean. How could he be so stereotypical and think he is somehow complimenting “strong” women?


  8. Nadia Lockheart June 3, 2016 / 9:59 pm

    “Black” is easily the most frustrating mainstream country/”country” album I’ve heard in quite some time.

    I still find myself divided over this after four thorough listens. It’s an album I certainly don’t love, but I certainly also don’t hate………………………….and I’m going to attempt to explain what I mean here.


    In one overall sense, I think Dierks Bentley had a genuinely great idea in which the album aims to predicate itself around: the dark side of the moon in relationships. The idea behind thinking of the color black as indicative of all the mystery and marrow of a deeper relationship (as opposed to red representing the earlier stages of one) and wanting to style an album around that is honestly a compelling idea that I think can definitely result in a compelling album. And Dierks also said that a Showtime series titled “The Affair” (a show centered around the fallout from an affair outside of a marriage) directly fueled the concept and, while I haven’t seen the show (I virtually never watch television anymore), I can see how such imagery can inspire songs rich in subtleties.

    The problem is, I feel Dierks takes a legitimately awesome idea for an album and provides a small handful of songs that are naturally in sync with it………………but then 1) either lazily tries to shoehorn other tracks that don’t seem relevant to the concept and would sound no less out of place on any typical male A or B-lister album (“Freedom, “What The Hell Did I Say'”, “Pick Up”, “Somewhere on a Beach” most notably) to pad out the album, or 2) his label directly staged an intervention and imposed obligatory radio songs for the album that essentially sabotage it, along with forcing Copperman to apply a polished production to it.

    I’m inclined to think it was a combination of the two.


    The eponymous album opener immediately exposes the main weaknesses of this album: lyricism that fails to match the ambitiousness reflected in the concept Dierks mentioned, and overly flat and synthetic production that lacks teeth and subtlety.

    For a track that is supposed to tap into the more mature mystery of a relationship, the title track is disappointingly shallow. You can instantaneously discern a hip-hop cadence in the technical songwriting which you typically expect to hear from the likes of Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line, and the chorus seems way too bent on forced rhymes (“black, hit me like a heart attack, knock me flat on my back”, etc.) as opposed to saying something of substance. If anything, it reminded me of the embarrassing “clock, tick, tock, stop” cadence in Luke Bryan’s “Home Alone Tonight”, and that’s NEVER a good first impression for any album.

    Same story with “Pick Up”. It reminds me a lot of other recent pun-heavy songs that wear out their welcome near-instantly like Keith Urban’s “Raise ‘Em Up”. Ha ha, clever: you can pick up the phone AND a box of wine! Oh, and pick up the pieces too! Why didn’t I ever think of that before! Someone give this guy a Dodge sponsorship deal! (eye roll)

    “I’ll Be The Moon” follows. It’s the first fairly decent track on the album, but despite some solid vocal performances and some competent (though unremarkable) lyrics…………one glaring issue that compromises much of the album still remains: overly staid, inorganic production elements. That results in a track that sounds toothless and forgettable when more organic instrumentation and flavor would have made for something potentially more show-stopping.

    Then we come to “What The Hell Did I Say”. And all I can say when taking in the lyrics is: “Did Pat Monahan write this?” “Louis Vuitton her? Rodeo Drive her? Slide a Tiffany diamond on her?” REALLY, Copperman, Kear & Tompkins? It does on its own provide the album some much-needed energy, but again it just feels completely out of place for an album of its supposed theme.

    Next we get the atrocious, puerile lead single, followed by a couple of inert, written-by-committee tracks that Capitol Nashville obviously imposed in order to clear this album for release that are blatantly filler. “Freedom”, just like “Pick Up”, is yet another lame exercise in figuring out how many different ways to apply the song’s title to everyday experiences and situations. It’s what I like to call “Songwriting Scattergories”. Much like the game Scattergories, where players roll a unique-shaped dice depicting letters of the alphabet and, using an hourglass, proceed to write down as many answers beginning with that letter of the alphabet relevant to the question…………………….Bentley and his songwriting buddies do much the same here except, in their case, name-dropping the title in as many relevant scenarios in the span of three minutes and thirty-six seconds. It’s lazy, and familiar production issues arise again as I can easily mistake this for a Dr. Luke-helmed track in the vein of Ke$ha’s “We R Who We R” with the sing-shouty chorus and pep-rally cadences. Then it’s followed by “Why Do I Feel” and, though it is supposed to be the song that begins Side B of the album as Dierks has explained in interviews where the protagonist begins to mature, you would never even notice due to the faceless production. Lyrically it’s well-intentioned but a few token dobro plucks and echoing effects at the 2:45 mark aren’t remotely enough to elevate this borefest and allow the lyrics to impact.

    Finally I hear more of the Dierks I had been pining to hear on “Roses And A Time Machine”. This is an exceptionally rare instance where both the production and the lyrics manage to stand out. Granted this doesn’t sound country at all (much like almost the entire album), but it’s still enjoyable on its own between the edgier guitar work and somehow working Deloreans and Craigslist into the lyrics without sounding like a Jason Derulo song. Good work, much respect!

    “All The Way To Me” isn’t bad, all things considered. It’s probably the track most closely reminiscent to “Riser” as far as the sound is concerned. The problem is, it lyrically feels like a reprise of “I Hold On”, and the latter is a far more effective song both because of how cathartic its arrangement is and how closely the lyrics touch upon the loss of his father and the love of his wife. I still like this song and it does have lyrical descriptions that are definitely appealing like shoeboxes and hand-me-down knives……………….but it just doesn’t have as much emotional payoff as the aforementoned song and, again, this kind of song just seems out of place on an album that’s supposed to be about the deeper, more mature aspects of a relationship.

    Then we come to………………..(groans)………………….”Different For Girls”. Seriously: did RaeLynn write this? Everything about this seems right up her alley and is a clumsy, unfortunate message that reinforces gender roles and the battle of the sexes. Seriously: this is actually an intelligence-insulting track that kind of pisses me off. The instrumentation is alright and, to her credit, Elle King gives a solid vocal performance……………….but it isn’t nearly enough to save this trainwreck of a track. Next!

    I actually really like “Mardi Gras”. It’s a much more interesting lyrical conceit than “Pick Up” and “Freedom” ever were, and there’s actually some fascinating lyrical descriptions and character here. It also sounds pretty distinctive in relation to the rest of the album thanks in large part to Trombone Shorty. Seriously: if THIS were the lead single instead of “Somewhere on a Beach”, I wouldn’t mind. It at least is a hell of a lot more listenable and actually relevant to the theme (despite it not sounding country at all).

    “Light It Up” is pretty much as banal and predictable as you would expect based off its title. For an album that’s supposed to be about the more mature nuances of relationships, this appeals squarely to the cliched light-and-dark contrast binary of modern lyricism. It sounds like something you’d expect Casting Crowns or maybe Richard Marx to write and sing instead given how blatantly vanilla it sounds. It does nothing to enhance the album in any way, shape or form.

    Finally we come to the album’s best track: “Can’t Be Replaced”. As tragic as it is we had to wait until the end of the album to hear the best it has to offer, he nails it here with some emotionally intimate lyrical descriptions and an insanely generous amount of dobro. Seriously: the last time I can recall hearing this much dobro on a mainstream country/”country” song was Jana Kramer’s “I Got The Boy” and, before that, it was of all things……………………(groans)…………………Florida Georgia Line’s “Sun Daze”.


    In the end, I genuinely think Dierks Bentley was onto something when he revealed the concept he bases this album around. It’s a legitimately exquisite idea that can easily make for a truly incisive and rewarding album.

    The problem is, its contents just don’t reflect what he was going for and rather come across as throwaways that wouldn’t feel out of place on any other A or B-lister album without a working concept. If I want to hear an album that tackles a lot of complex emotions and features electronic production elements, I’d rather just listen to CHVRCHES (they’re one of my favorite groups among all genres presently). “Black” is an admirable idea that nonetheless falls disappointingly short in its execution, and is easily his second weakest album following “Feel That Fire”.


    I’m thinking a Strong 4 to Light 5 out of 10 for this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Schott June 3, 2016 / 10:15 pm

      Well said. We’re pretty much in agreement and I agree that he had the right idea with the concept. The idea the album is based around should have made for a career album. Then he turned it over to his label, Ross Copperman and the Music Row songwriting factory where they pretty much do their worst. Much like Jekyll + Hyde for Zac Brown Band, I hope this is just a bad misstep for Dierks. He’s too talented and insightful to be releasing such mediocre projects like this.


      • Nadia Lockheart June 3, 2016 / 11:15 pm


        Honestly, I won’t be surprised if he follows this up with a second bluegrass album or some other sort of passion project. Dierks has already admitted in a recent interview he’d love to do another one soon.

        What does astonish me, however, is a possible lack of self-awareness on Dierks’ part in how he describes this album to the press. It’s pretty clear he never liked “Somewhere on the Beach” to begin with gauging by his previous comments as well as expressions in its music video which scream “Yeah, I KNOW this sucks, just roll with it!” So does he feel the same way about “What The Hell Did I Say”, “Freedom” and “Pick Up” most notably?

        To those who only became fans of Dierks since “Drunk on a Plane” became a mega-hit, yeah, I can see why they may think of “Black” as “deep” in their view. But among those like us who have been following Dierks along (which, let’s be honest, comprises most of his fanbase) as far back as his debut album……………..does he seriously expect us to regard this as the top of his game and just go along with his publicist? My bet is that certainly not all, but a plurality of his longtime fans, are going to consider this among his three weakest albums (the other two usually being “Feel That Fire” and “Home”).


        Yet, as disappointed as I am with this album, I don’t feel any diminished respect for Dierks whatsoever.

        I genuinely feel his heart was in the right place and made this album with pure intentions. While I consider it pretty lame and self-defeating to divide artists and entertainers into categories as “good guys” and “bad guys”, I’m left no less convinced that Dierks recorded and released this without feeling spoiled unlike with Zac Brown: whose most recent album smacks as his inner-tycoon overshadowing his inner-artist.

        His main sin is simply compromising way too heavily with Mercury Nashville. I thought “Somewhere on a Beach” was the most he had compromised to get the album released. Turned out the majority of the album feels compromised. Which is especially bewildering for an artist whose current album is his NINTH to date. As true as it is that Dierks Bentley has never been among the highest-selling albums artists in mainstream country music and has regularly been cited as a B-lister, he is also among the most consistent acts commercially and that usually is a stronger indicator of overall success. And if Dierks was able to convince Mercury Nashville to let him cut a bluegrass album of all things, it makes it even less excusable that he felt the need to give the label this much yardage (assuming he, himself, didn’t call the production and song selection shots of course).

        I’m still quite optimistic he will rebound into top form just as he did after “Feel That Fire”. Still, it’s agonizing he even had to resort to this to begin with.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. OlaR June 4, 2016 / 4:11 am

    (Un)popular opinion: the album sounds cold & calculated. The album will sell well, the singles will be hits, DB will fill arenas, DB will host an award-show or two & will win an award or two, but he will never reach the superstar-level. Ross Copperman is only the icing on the cake & it’s not a Copperman album. The name on the cover is Dierks Bentley.
    A second bluegrass album? I believe it when i hear it.

    There is one new released album i like & it’s not “Hero” or the Dan + Shay album.
    “A Whole Lot More To Me” is the winner. Craig Morgan sounds great. The production is up-to-date without using gimmicks & the songs are above average. 9/10.


  10. Jonathan June 4, 2016 / 12:16 pm

    I agree with everyone else. This album is very disappointing. I’m a pretty big Dierks Bentley fan. Normally there’s really only 3 or 4 bad songs per album and the rest are great. It seems like Dierks has fully sold out now. Hopefully we’ll get the old Dierks back someday. Can’t Be Replaced was excellent though. I’ll Be The Moon was pretty good too. All the Way To Me, Roses and a Time Machine, and Mardi Gras are OK, but I can’t see myself ever really wanting to listen to them again. The dobro on Why Do I Feel was nice but everything else about the song was lame. There’s plenty of awesome dobro music out there, I don’t need to suffer through that song to hear it. Maybe his next album will be better, but I’m not going to get my hopes up at this point.

    For a good alternative new album to listen to, check out The More I Learn by Bryan Sutton. Sutton is an excellent bluegrass guitar player if you’re not familiar with him.


  11. O.D.M. (@bronxMix) June 9, 2016 / 10:14 pm

    Certainly a let down at first listen. But I have been listening to it to and from work every day and it is growing on me. I decided to just accept that this is not a country album and just listen to the songs in order. I want to hear if it is indeed an observation of relationships like Dierks says it is.

    The only songs I skip over automatically are Freedom, Mardi Gras and probably Roses and a Time Machine. I actually like Beach. It is nothing more than what it is.

    I get what he is trying to do, he’s just not doing it country style. So I consider this cd to be a kind of vanity project much like the Ridge album. Ridge and Riser are hands down my favorite albums of his and his earlier stuff isjust great.I really did not like Home much after about the 5th song.

    I adore the guy.

    I will still be loyal to this guy because he gets country music. He’s an “artist” so he is spreading his wings because at this stage, he can. He is in it for the long run and I think that when his record selling peak is through, he will still be out there doing what he wants and what the fans want.

    Ride or die for me.

    BTW I completely understand everyone being so disappointed. I am no critic..I can’t break it down and give explanations but I know what I like. He keeps growing and experimenting and he is always interesting unlike Keith Urban, of whom i was a fan and still appreciate his talents but I have no intention of buying his new cd. No growth, no chances taken.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Schott June 9, 2016 / 10:47 pm

      I definitely hear where you’re coming from and I appreciate you seeing where I was coming from too. I had one Dierks fan call me a grandpa for this review. To be honest I hated writing it because I’m a fan of Dierks and he’s made so much good music, not to mention a good guy too. I own Up on the Ridge on vinyl and Riser was one of the best albums I’ve heard from mainstream country in the last five years. But he just didn’t hit with Black in my mind. I’m hopeful that “Can’t Be Replaced” gets released as a single.


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