When Dierks Bentley logs into a Zoom call with members of the Nashville media, he’s seated in the living room of a rustic cabin in Ashland City on the outskirts of Nashville, where he’s shooting the cover for his next album. It has those chic white walls that have become a staple in modern farmhouses, adorned with hanging cups in the kitchen and an antler lamp on the table sitting next to the singer. The aesthetic makes it clear that Bentley is going back to his country roots, approaching the new project with a renewed sense of appreciation for his career.

“There's really a lot of gratitude for what I get to do more so than ever because of 2020,” Bentley shares with Taste of Country, The Boot and other media. “It feels like starting all over again because of what we've been through in the last two years.”

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 altered life as we know it, leading to the mass shutdown of live events that kept artists including Bentley off the road for more than a year. Bentley, his wife Cassidy and their three children made the most of the dire situation by retreating to their second home in Colorado, which nearly became a permanent residence. It’s where Bentley began the process of making his upcoming studio album in February of 2020, and he admits it took a few tries to get it right.

While Bentley is looking ahead to new horizons, it took some time to remove himself from The Mountain, his critically acclaimed 2018 album that sent three back-to-back singles to No. 1 with “Woman, Amen,” “Burning Man” featuring Brothers Osborne and “Living.” The album was a product of its surroundings, Bentley so inspired by Colorado that he brought a team of writers out west to write and record it. Though the time away from Nashville did the hitmaker some good, he realized he needed to come back to Music City to make his new record.

“Place is so important, and I think one of the things I struggled with [was] trying to get off The Mountain, because I’m, in a lot of ways, still on it. A lot of my life is still out there in Colorado and my heart, but I didn't want to repeat that album. So it took a while to come down off it,” he explains. After a series of writing sessions in Colorado, the “Black” singer returned to Nashville, where he had a “rekindling love” for the city he’s called home for more than two decades.

Bentley is also stepping into the role of producer alongside longtime collaborator Ross Copperman, in an effort to put “my handprint all over it and making it very personal.”

“I’ve really fallen back in love with Nashville and Tennessee, so the album definitely reflects more of that, of what drew me to Nashville, which was great country music,” he continues. “So that's reflected in the music.”

Bentley is already going into the album with two hits on his hands, as its lead single, “Gone,” became his 20th No. 1 hit in 2021, while his current single “Beers on Me,” featuring Breland and Hardy, is climbing into the Top 20 on country radio. But the singer reveals that sonically, the album will deviate from these hits and instead embody a more traditional country sound.

"I’m trying to draw on some stuff I've done in the past, albums like Modern Day Drifter, but still give it a contemporary feel,” he describes of the album that has “Tennessee vibes” and incorporates more fiddle and steel guitar. “I love the songs, I love the feel of it. A lot of great country songs, a lot of great instrumentation. It just feels good.”

Bentley is walking into the project with full confidence, knowing that he's giving himself the space to create the album he truly wants.

“It’s my 10th album, and all the pressure's coming for me. I just want it to be great,” he confesses. “Nobody’s really buying records, so I'm making this for me. It's very important to me, because [I’ve] been making [albums] for a while, and I want these however many records I have left to be really great quality. I feel like I've been doing that for the last few and I've always tried to, but I feel like I'm getting better at it," Bentley continues.

“I feel the way you should feel when you're making an album, and I hadn't felt that way in the previous attempts. But this time around, [I have] a great band and great songs and really feeling good about the direction. I'm really excited about it.”

Bentley recently kicked off the new leg of his Beers on Me Tour in Canada, continuing through March 5, when it wraps in Ohio.

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