Dierks Bentley

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Home Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Pivoting off his 2010 bluegrass detour Up on the Ridge, Dierks Bentley returns to the well-oiled modern country of Feel That Fire. If that 2009 effort seemed a little stiff in its calculations, Bentley is looser here and more muscular, too, something apparent from the grinding guitars of the opening "Am I the Only One." Despite this kick, Home often winds up on territory that's as sentimental as its name suggests, rhapsodizing about the comfort of home, love, and family, going so far as to have his child murmur the melody of "Thinking of You" as the album is winding to a conclusion. Here, Bentley borders on pure kitsch and it's not the only country corn here, not with the cautionary tale of how "Diamonds Make Babies" and Dierks asking for somebody to call the po-pop on "5-1-5-0." Catchy as they are, these numbers are a shade too cutesy, salvaged by the inherent grit in Bentley's voice and the clean propulsion of the production. Like Feel That Fire, Home does tilt a little too closely to the slick side of things but it has a sturdier foundation: the songs are overall stronger, the performances hit hard, it doesn’t waste time, it gets to the point even when the point is a little silly. These tougher remnants of the rootsy, down-home Up on the Ridge are enough to turn Home into a record that resonates longer and louder than Feel That Fire even when it shares much of the same radio-ready DNA.

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