When country star Dierks Bentley set out to begin work on his eighth album, “Black,” he knew he wanted to record songs that were really personal, but not strictly autobiographical. Songs that “blend the lines,” he said, and make fans wonder, Is that about him?
Bentley, speaking recently by phone from his home in Nashville, said the songs on the album “are not all autobiographical, but it leaves it up to you to decide which ones aren’t.
“I’d been married 10 years when I started making this record,” he added. “I wrote the song, ‘Black,’ and I loved the edge it had to it. And I started thinking how people in our society always talk about how they got married and it’s happily ever after. Everything is so geared toward short-term relationships, when there’s more to dig in when you’re in a long-term relationship, more dirt to get on your hands and sing about. My relationship with my wife is more interesting than any heartaches and heartbreaks I went through when I was single.”
Bentley is bringing songs from “Black” and his past hits “Drunk on a Plane,” “Riser,” “Every Mile a Memory” and “I Hold On” to the West Plains on Wednesday as his “Somewhere on a Beach” tour rolls into Northern Quest Resort & Casino.
The songs on “Black” tell the story of, as Rolling Stone wrote in its review, “a hedonistic jerk in search of pleasure, and a hedonistic jerk who’s man enough to eventually acknowledge the consequences of his actions.” Along the way, he teamed up with collaborators like Trombone Shorty on “Mardi Gras” and Elle King on “Different for Girls,” a song currently at No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
As the tour has chugged along, Bentley said it’s been great to see audiences reacting to the new music. They’re not only singing along with the hits like “Different for Girls” or “Somewhere on a Beach,” but they’re reacting to albums cuts like “Freedom” and “Black.”
“It’s fun to see that fans bought the record and actually listened to the songs that aren’t just on the radio,” he said. “But it’s still fun to play ‘Sideways,’ it’s still fun to play the high-energy stuff.”
It’s all part of putting as much of himself as he can on stage, he said. He doesn’t go on the road to sight see or to write songs or to go fishing (although he figures he might find some time to wet a line when he’s in the Spokane area next week). He spends a lot of his preshow time conserving his energy for the night ahead.
“Every ounce of my energy goes into that show,” he said. “I really have to reserve all of my energy to make sure the show is everything that I want it to be and everything the fans should expect.”
He puts a lot of thought into creating his live show, he said, because he loves that experience. But also, he realizes that by being out for weeks at a time and for months on end, he and his band are missing home.
“I love the road and love the live show, and live for that,” he said. “Of course now our lives are busier with my family and kids, it makes the show so much more important. Now I huddle the band before we walk on stage and say, ‘We have a lot of people missing us, we miss a lot of people, we cannot let this day be wasted. We have to go out and just crush this show for our fans, our families, for everybody.’ ”
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