With a guitar strapped to his chest and some likeable scruff accompanying his pearly white, Southern gentlemen grin, Dierks Bentley is the epitome of a classic, country man. Once you’re serenaded by “5-1-5-0,” his hit single about going insane for love and getting this mysterious woman to “ride shotgun in his truck,” it’s pretty tough to see this Arizona-born singer as anything but a good time.
The party continues with “Am I the Only One,” complete with a gritty, down-south guitar lick and lyrics about cold beer and “a country cutie with a rock ’n’ roll bootie.”
But like every bad boy, he’s got a soft, tender side. CMT Unplugged: Dierks Bentley Presented by State Farm captures a rather personal glimpse into the life and heart of the country star. After a rocking performance of “Am I the Only One,” he takes a moment to introduce the song “Home” and explain how a tragic shooting in his home state inspired the song.
The song begins with two simple guitars that welcome Bentley’s humble, twang-filled voice that’s sweetly weathered like the jeans he often wears. As the song progresses, a fiddle joins at the chorus. The profound nature of the song rests in the dose of strings that accompany the rawness of “Home” both lyrically and musically. Bentley’s voice and guitars keep the song grounded as the fiddle soars in all the right places, taking your emotions on a ride of nostalgia and a quest for light at the end of the tunnel.
Bentley takes a turn in the set to perform a bluegrass rendition of “Set Fire to the Rain” originally written and recorded by eight-time Grammy winner Adele. While Adele and Bentley may seem to be on two opposite ends of the musical spectrum, he certainly makes the song his own with a little country tweaking.
The set closes with “Up on the Ridge,” a bluegrass song that sparks a curiosity of imagination and adventure. Without hesitation, the banjo picks up with a dark riff that’s almost immediately joined by the guitar and the steady back and forth of the fiddle. A snare drum plays up the energy, making it impossible for your foot not to join in on a voyage of breaking the rules in the moonlight.
Whether Bentley is singing songs of cold beers or hopeful ballads for a better tomorrow, a story will unravel in each song, casting you off into a world of carefree, country bliss.