Dierks Bentley, "Up on the Ridge"

Album Review

The surest way to scare country radio programmers is to hand them something that puts the genre's roots in the storefront window. If that's true, then Dierks Bentley's latest album, "Up on the Ridge," is the aural equivalent of an encounter with Freddy Krueger. The title track/lead single has been warmly received, but the rest of the album is entirely too rootsy for broad appreciation by the country programming community. But for lovers of contemporary bluegrass and country music's Appalachian roots, "Up on the Ridge" is a thrilling ride from start to finish. Jamey Johnson and Miranda Lambert seamlessly blend their renaissance talents with Bentley's on the song "Bad Angel," while Kris Kristofferson's world-weary vocals bring added depth and authenticity to the down-and-outer anthem "Bottle to the Bottom." And the standout track is the gripping coal-mining ballad "Down in the Mine." While it's unlikely country radio will champion this album, somewhere in the great beyond, Bill Monroe is smiling approvingly. --Wade Jessen