Gravel & Gold (Universal, 2023)
Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh
Guitarist Billy Strings joins Bentley for the apocalyptic (or should we say 'a-pot-alyptic' "High Note," as it concerns getting high on Willie's finest in order face the world's end), along with bluegrass masters, Jerry Douglas (Dobro), Sam Bush (mandolin), Charlie Worsham (guitar) and Bryan Sutton (guitar/banjo) for a good old time blue-grassy workout. While this release isn't wall-to-wall bluegrass, like his "Up on the Ridge" was, acoustic/bluegrass instrumentation informs many of these tracks, as do traditional country sounds. Bentley is clearly feeling his country roots with this full-length.
There isn't a bad cut in the bunch, so you won't have to skip any tracks. Bentley is able to slide naturally from the serious ("Something Real") to the slightly silly ("Beer At My Funeral"), yet still sound like the same ol' Bentley. Even the guest appearances are a good fit. In addition to Strings, Ashley McBryde is just the right cowgirl partner for "Cowboy Boots."
Bentley admits to a couple of failed attempts before tracking and releasing "Gravel & Gold." Few probably know how those 'misses' actually came out. However, this released effort is one of Bentley's very best. He certainly struck artistic gold with it.
CDs by Dierks Bentley
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