Dierks Bentley made his name as the drifter type, but lovin’ and leavin’ can’t last. On Feel That Fire he’s found the midpoint between mirth and mope, as characteristic country barn-burners like the screw-it-‘n’-drink sing-along of ”Sideways” mingle with themes of faith and fidelity to generate his most complete album yet. Credit Bentley’s broad, crackly baritone, a voice that can do sentimental — as on richly arranged mash note ”You Hold Me Together” — without losing an ounce of its outlaw energy.
Dierks BentleyThere’s more to mainstream country than Rascall FlattsDierks Bentley wants to be everything to every country-music fan, and for the most part, he pulls it off. There’s the badass (“Life On The Run”), the lover (“I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes”) and, of course, the blessing counter (“Beautiful World”). Although not entirely distinguishable from his last record, Feel That Fire effortlessly runs the gamut from classic country to twang to rock and pop.
Dierks Bentley’s fifth album, Feel That Fire, opens with an electric guitar emulating a motorcycle’s roar, hearkening back to… what? Motley Crue’s “Girls Girls Girls”? Then the band crashes in, the song takes off, and there’s the man himself singing about “Life on The Run”. It’s an outlaw tale: he has a one-night stand, then continues to run from the police, because he “done bent the law / ‘til the law got broke”. Never mind that he’s innocent of this specific crime (“I didn’t do what they said I done”), he’s running.
It would be nice if some of the titular burn could be felt on Dierks Bentley's fourth studio album, but Feel That Fire is an atypically cautious, calculated affair from one of Nashville's best singer/songwriters of the 2000s. Part of Bentley's appeal lies in his casual display of his deep roots, how he built upon Waylon and Merle without ever seeming overly indebted by their legacy; it made him sound grounded, while his sentiments and crisp, clean sound made him seem modern. Bentley doesn't abandon this synthesis on Feel That Fire but he does streamline and simplify it, reducing it to its basics in an attempt to fashion a deliberate crossover ploy.