"Up on the Ridge"
(Capitol Records Nashville, June 8)
For his sixth album, Dierks Bentley shifted away from his straight-ahead country sound and committed to his longtime interest in bluegrass. While the experimental nature of "Up on the Ridge" may seem like a risky career move, the combination of Bentley's vision and an impressive list of collaborators results in a fascinating detour.
"The album was supposed to be a side project, but it's grown into something much more," Capital Records Nashville president/CEO Mike Dungan says. After Bentley approached the label with the project late last year, the country star recorded last winter in Nashville, Los Angeles and Boston with producer Jon Randall. "Up on the Ridge" mixes original tunes like melancholy ballad "Draw Me a Map" and the playful singalong cut "Fiddlin' Around" with bluegrass-inflected covers of Bob Dylan's "Senor" and U2's "Pride (In the Name of Love)".
Along with Miranda Lambert and Jamey Johnson, who guest on the fiddle-driven anthem "Bad Angel," the album features contributions by Kris Kristofferson, Alison Krauss and the Punch Brothers. Despite the stylistic change and diverse track list, Bentley's confidence guides the album. "He had a real sense of direction and made a vehicle for people to hopefully discover this music," Dungan says.
Previous album and sales: "Feel That Fire," 327,000 (according to Nielsen SoundScan)