Up on the Ridge
For his fifth album, Dierks Bentley he has enlisted the help of an array of bluegrass and country artists, from Del McCoury to Kris Kristofferson
(sharing vocal duties on his excellent “Bottle to the Bottom”). In fact the album's best tracks are provided by Dylan, Kristofferson & U2 thus highlighting what impeccable taste Bentley has (in music and musicians). It does, though, leave you wishing that he would showcase more of his own material rather than relying on the songwriting talents of others.
Despite the country stars, Up On The Ridge veers very much towards the bluegrass end of the musical spectrum, showing just how much faith Bentley's label has in him. Nashville Capitol had previously existed on a diet of country artists. Bentley though shows more than enough talent to ensure they will be happy with their decision, whilst also guaranteeing that he won’t need to get a job loading hillbilly gold where the sun never shines any time soon.
The album opens with the sprightly title track with backing vocals by Alison Krauss. It is one of a handful of songs that Bentley receives
co-writing credits on. The best song on the album though is courtesy of Bob Dylan: “Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)” is brought to life by the excellent mandolin playing of the Punch Brothers’ Chris Thile. U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)” also provides The Punch Brothers with a chance to strut their stuff, alongside Del McCoury.
The album continues along with guest appearances throughout, giving the impression that Bentley wants to show the world that with this album he has made it, and that he has the respect of his peers to prove it. It all works very well too, mostly because Bentley is willing to allow the performances of others, like Thile, to shine through. Credit for this must also be given to producer, and occasional backing musician, Jon Randall Stewart.