Dierks Bentley on Getting a Female Perspective on ‘Black’

By Brian Ives

Dierks Bentley’s brand new Black album takes a different approach to relationships to many contemporary country albums.

These days, a lot of songs deal with either the very beginning of a relationship, or the end of one. Black, however, deals with a long lasting relationship, inspired by Dierks’ marriage to his wife, Cassidy Black (they’ve been together for more than ten years, and it’s her maiden name that inspired the album’s title).

To that end, he decided to have a lot of female input on the album, in the form of duet partners and co-songwriters.

As he tells Radio.com, “There’s a song with Maren Morris, and I got Elle King to sing on a song called ‘Different For Girls,’ which really became a full duet. And then I realized I wrote a song with Jessi Alexander that I loved, called ‘Light It Up.’ I wrote a song about Mardi Gras (‘Mardi Gras‘) with Natalie Hemby, and a song called ‘Can’t Be Replaced’ with Hillary Lindsey. They’re all great singers. It just so happens that all three of them are some of the best singers in Nashville, signed or not signed. The record is about relationships, so it’s nice to have the other half of the relationship there to add to the conversation and make it more of a dialogue.”

Elle King was a breakout singer last year in the pop world, thanks mainly to her hit “Exes and Ohs,” but when Bentley cut his duet with Morris, her single “My Church” wasn’t yet the smash it would become.

“I think ‘My Church’ was out, it was just kind of getting started [on the charts]. The way she’s on the album is: the song is written by Ryan Hurd and Heather Morgan and a guy named Matt Dragstrem. There was a female voice on the demo, and I loved that voice. And I said, ‘I’d love to get that girl, whoever it is, on the record.’ Turns out, it was Maren Morris.”

“We got Maren in,” he continues. “I was just lucky. Maren Morris is now a rising star in country music. I love her voice; we kind of twist the song around a little bit so she could sing more and make it a full duet. I think it turned out great, it’s a really cool song.”

Another woman he’s been sharing the mic with is Cam, who is opening on his summer tour, and who joins him on stage often (along with fellow opener Randy Houser) for a rendition of the Eagles’ “Take it Easy.” He said that the song was partially chosen to pay tribute to the late Glenn Frey, and to recognize the band’s enormous impact on country music.

“The Eagles really had such a country sound,” he says. “You look at their sound now, compared to what’s on country radio today, it’s almost traditional. It’s a song that everyone loves and it’s kind of the vibe of the tour: take it easy! We want everyone to have a good time, and it gives us a chance to have Randy and Cam, who are really great singers, to show the fans their voices, it’s been a fun collaboration. It’s hard to find that right song to do as a collaboration that doesn’t throw the show off the groove. It’s a pretty good one.”

He says that while country music still retains it’s respect for the icons of the genre, the Eagles have become more and more influential. “A lot of people talk about Hank Williams, I don’t know if a lot of people actually listen to Hank. I do. I love old-school country music. I love bluegrass, I listen to a lot of acoustic music.”

“But I think more people probably grew up listening to the Eagles than grew up listening to Hank, as far as country singers go. They’ve had a huge impact on country music, they’ve had a huge impact on artists singing country music.”

And that impact is heard at all of Dierks’ shows on his tour. Get the full list of dates at his official website.

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