Dierks Bentley returns to the world of mainstream country after dabbling with bluegrass on 2010's Up on the Ridge.
With the usual ratio of party tracks to love songs, Home is as listenable as the next album by a mid-level country crooner. This is acceptable but also a little depressing.
Country is a singles medium, and new albums rarely provide a cohesive listening experience.
Still, rather than employ the usual track-by-track rundown, and grade on a curve of diluted expectations, I've decided to take the record for what it isn't: Dierks Bentley's most ambitious work yet -- a concept album about the tragic life of a man named Dierks Bentley.
Act One: Love at First Feel
At the start of the opening track, "Am I the Only One," Dierks Bentley is drinking alone. This isn't the first time. Just as Hank Jr. warned, all his rowdy friends have settled down. No one wants to drink half a bottle of Old Crow on a Wednesday night anymore.
His depression lifts when he spots a "country cutie with a rockin' little booty" at the bar. She's ordering shots of Patron, dancing by herself, and exhibiting all the classic signs of manic depression.
By track two, Dierks Bentley is ensnared in a toxic relationship with said woman. Depending on her mood swings, she's either "honey" or "poison." D.B. admits to himself in a moment of brutal honesty: "The way she moves me, probably gonna die young" (listen).
Act Two: Downward Spiral
As his relationship withers and the economy tanks with "Main Street closing," Dierks Bentley turns once more to booze. He heeds the advice of "Tip It On Back" to "sip a little more than you know you should."
Later, while flying home from a detox facility, a newly sober Dierks Bentley meditates on his life. He looks out the window and studies the landscape of "Home," where canyons become "scars" that "sometimes . . . worry me."
His drinking may have abated, but his melancholy hasn't.
Indeed, when his longtime friends start getting hitched, he masks his own insecurities by making petty jokes. "I know that you love her," he tells one acquaintance, "She's one special lady. But I'm warning you brother . . . diamonds make babies" (listen).
As his behavior gets increasingly out of line, his friends abandon him.
Act Three: A Turn for the Worse
On the inside, Dierks Bentley is desperate for love, but he doesn't know how to express it. "I wanna breathe you in," he tells one terrified prospect, "I wanna be so close, you can wear my skin, like a new set of clothes" (listen).
His obsessive behavior in relationships is bound to lead to a restraining order. "Somebody call the po-po," he sings on "5-1-5-0." "I'm goin' crazy."
Dierks starts spending long hours in the woods. What does he do there, exactly? And does it have anything to do with those missing girls? "What happens in the woods, stays in the woods," is all he will say.
At around this time, Dierks Bentley sets his sights on a new love, Denise. "I'm the kind that likes to take it slow," he tells her all the while wondering when she's "gonna give in and just give it up."
While Dierks is away on a "camping trips," he discovers she's seeing someone else. He seems to take it rather well: "Lonesome is this lonesome girl, she can't help for what she needs" (listen).
As D.B. digs another shallow grave in the woods to bury the corpse of his beloved, he eulogizes:
When I'm all alone or in a crowd(listen)
In a quiet place or where music's loud
If I'm on the road, or in the other room
That's how you know, I'm thinkin' of you
Track list of Home
1. "Am I the Only One"
2. "Gonna Die Young"
3. "Tip It on Back"
5. "Diamonds Make Babies"
6. "In My Head"
7. "Breathe You In"
8. "The Woods"
9. "When You Gonna Come Around"
11. "Heart of a Lonely Girl"
12. "Thinking of You"