Perennial country favorite Dierks Bentley has revealed the first details of his upcoming ninth studio album, The Mountain.
Set for release early this year, Bentley says the album owes its creative genesis to a recent experience at Telluride Bluegrass Festival – a long-running roots music gathering held each year in the Rocky Mountains resort town of Telluride, Colorado.
The singer-songwriter has a well-established love of bluegrass and released the bluegrass-inspired album Up on the Ridge in 2010. His most recent album – 2016’s Black – featured a more polished, rock-infused sound. Bentley describes The Mountain to Rolling Stone Country as a combination of those two musical impulses.
“The Mountain mixes Up on the Ridge with Black,” he says. “This record covers more ground in that Up on the Ridge area than I thought it would. The most successful part of my career is in large part due to [songwriter-producer] Ross Copperman, and these sounds and ideas that he has. But we’ve reached a place where we’ve pushed that as far as we can, so how do we grab some of the stuff I love from the first part of my career and blow that up even more, and put it all together in a cauldron.”
A new teaser video for the project released as part of the announcement seems to confirm that analysis, highlighting a marriage of roots instrumentation and a modern, rock-focused drive. In the video, Bentley walks through a sweeping backcountry landscape as the fat-bottomed electric groove of The Mountain‘s title track plays in the background.
“Well I bet my soul on a six string gamble / I climbed like hell through the brush and the bramble / Even though I had my doubts / Told myself don’t look down / And I turned that hill into a pile of gravel / It was only a mountain,” Bentley sings.
Recorded and also largely written in Telluride, the album was produced by Copperman, Jon Randall and executive producer Arturo Buenahora Jr., and features songs co-written by Bentley with hitmakers like Natalie Hemby, Luke Dick, Copperman, Randall, Jon Nite and Ashley Gorley.
Bentley previously debuted two new songs at a pair of year-end concerts in Las Vegas, road-testing the driving rocker “Burning Man” and optimistic ballad “Living” for enthusiastic crowds. His most-recent release is “Hold the Light,” a collaboration with Bon Iver’s S. Carey from the Only the Brave soundtrack memorializing the 19 firefighters who died battling a wildfire in Bentley’s native Arizona in 2013.