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"Anything looks big when you face it in totality," says singer-songwriter Dierks Bentley. "It's like 'How am I ever going to solve this problem? How am I ever gonna get to the top?' But if you take it one step at a time and just keep grinding away, you can do it."
He's talking about the spirit behind his ninth studio album, The Mountain, and after 15 years in country music, the mountains Bentley has climbed could form a range of their own.
To date, the Arizona native has scored 17 Number Ones like "What Was I Thinkin'," "I Hold On" and "Black" and 13 Grammy nominations – including at least one stemming from each of his last six albums. He's built a reputation as both a dedicated family man and a forever-young drifter, put in millions of miles on headlining tours and taken the fearless stylistic detours of a truly authentic artist.
With The Mountain, Bentley continues that journey, taking more chances and pulling inspiration from the twisted peaks surrounding a tiny town in Colorado – as well as the uphill battles his fans face every day. Unified by themes of positivity and presence, 13 new tracks range in style from textured rock to acoustic folk, feeling both rooted and expansive at the same time. And in the end, Bentley reaches a new creative high.
Bentley's no stranger to following his muse. In 2010, with four hit-filled albums already under his belt, the country star famously recorded a bluegrass project titled Up on the Ridge, stepping back from a red-hot career to focus on music that fed his soul. The risky decision was hailed by critics and fans alike, and Bentley now thinks of it as a "hinge point," saying "It was the start of a second career really, and all the success I've had stems from that record."
Each album since (Home, Riser and Black) has built upon the Up on the Ridge ethos, with Bentley holding his artistic ground and still scoring hits – but The Mountain reaches further. He describes it as a sonic mix of Up on the Ridge's bluegrass soul and the modern-rock polish of Black.
Featuring Bentley's 2018 tour partners Brothers Osborne, "Burning Man" opens the album on a fiery-but-reflective note, fusing propulsive beats with booming vocals and guitars to describe the star – now a 42-year-old father of three – as a restless spirit with his feet firmly on the ground.