Song Review: Dierks Bentley, “Black”

Having Dierks Bentley sing an smooth AC sex jam is like using a shovel to eat cereal: Sure, you can do it, but the tool doesn’t really match the task.

Bentley is one of the few artists in modern country music who actually has some street cred among old-school traditionalists, and his 15+ year career has been built on rough-edged barroom-country tracks like “Lot Of Leavin’ Left To Do” and “Free And Easy (Down The Road I Go).” (He and Eric Church are as close to 70s-era outlaw country as country music gets these days.) It came as a surprise, then, when Bentley took a hard left towards a smoother, Metropolitan-esque sound with his latest album Black, with the title track released as the third single.

The production is about as un-Bentley-like as you could imagine. Gone is the fiddle and the steel and the rollicking guitars, replaced with more muted electronics tones and a half-synthetic, half-African-drum beat. Un-Bentley-like, however, doesn’t necessarily mean bad, and the mix does a good job setting a dark/mysterious-yet-sexy tone for the song. (The drums deserve special mention for adding a bit of a raw edge to the mood.)

Lyrically…well, if you’re heard one country sex jam, you’ve heard them all at this point. There’s nothing particularly clever or witty here to make the song stand out from the crowd. Bentley himself delivers a solid, believable performance that fits the sultry atmosphere of the production, but his rougher delivery and slightly-choppy flow are a slightly awkward fit for the song.

Overall, this is a decent song, but it’s a bit of a disappointment coming from an artist like Dierks Bentley. While he deserves some credit for stepping out of his comfort zone and pulling off “Black” as well as he does, this song definitely isn’t his best work.

Rating: 6/10, which is probably how’d I rate the entire album. It’s not classic Dierks, but it’s not bad.

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