There is apparently no limit to the number of Opry-friendly, down-home, good-looking crooners that Nashville can wrap in jeans and put forth in any given year. Like most of these, Dierks Bentley seems amiable enough, and, on this debut album, he makes each required stop on the stardom trail: rascally, boot-scoot humor ("Bartenders, Etc."), gauzy nostalgia ("My Last Name"), honky tonk swagger ("I Bought the Shoes"), boozy self-pity ("Whiskey Tears"), goofy outtake endings ("How Am I Doin'"), and, in "Distant Shore," an actually fairly complex purée of romantic revenge, poetic intoxication, and Biblical allusion. Aside from strident patriotism, which somehow slipped through the net, that pretty much covers all the bases. Bentley pulls it all off with a rawboned delivery that skims the surface of the genre without leaving a ripple of individualism in its wake. The last number, "Train Traveling," provides an unexpected jolt by pairing Bentley with the Del McCoury Band, whose intensity is evident from the artful accelerando that kicks off the song. But on every other track, Bentley is backed by competent and undistinguished players who know how to breeze through songs that value the deft lick and clever wordplay more than suggestions of depth or insight. This young singer clearly deserves whatever success he achieves for making all the right moves and offending no one aside from the odd disgruntled critic.
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AllMusic Review by Robert L. Doerschuk
feat: The Del McCoury Band