[Capitol Nashville]

Contemporary country success is often about establishing a persona and then reiterating it at every turn. Become the “I’m from the country” guy, the “I love America” guy, the “I love to party” guy or the “I’m free to party in the country ’cause I live in America” guy and hammer that home. Dierks Bentley is a big-tent, big-idea exception to all that. He’s comfortable on stages with bluegrass legends Del McCoury and Sam Bush or rock luminaries like the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, and he knowingly knocked himself off country radio playlists with 2010’s rootsy, acoustic-based Up on the Ridge. Home is Bentley’s return to radio-ready sonics, but Bentley inhabits that territory without pandering or dumbing down. It opens with the uptempo romp “Am I the Only One” and is back-loaded with delights including “When You Gonna Come Around” (a lovely duet with Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild) and the haunting closer “Thinking of You.” –Peter Cooper

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