With the release of his newest album, “Gravel & Gold,” Dierks Bentley goes back to the authentic sound that first drew him to Nashville as a teenager with a dream.
Bentley’s career took off in 2003 when he hit No. 1 with his debut single, “What Was I Thinkin.'” His latest studio album is his 10th — and he said he’s managed to remain the same guy he was when he broke into the country music scene.
“It’s weird,” said Bentley, who is now 47. “The further you go trying to search for authenticity and search yourself and come up with new records, new ideas, but you’re still— a lot of the songs, same old me. I’m still the same guy, playing the same guitar.”
“I’m still that same kid that just loves country music,” he said.
On Bentley’s path to country music stardom, there were detours and doubters — and one rough tour in particular that prompted him to take a break and make a bluegrass record. He recalled looking out toward the audience, and seeing empty rows.
“That’s where you get all the grit and determination, that’s what makes you, you know kind of fearless later on,” he said. “And so that was really the I guess part of the alchemy of turning gravel into gold. And from that point on it’s been a lotta gold,” he said.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Bentley moved his family from Nashville to Colorado, where he put down his guitar for a while and listened to all the music he’s made over the past 20 years, like his albums “Modern Day Drifter,” “Long Trip Alone,” “Feel That Fire,” “Up on the Ridge,” “Home,” “Riser” and “The Mountain.”
Recently, he returned to Nashville, where he owns a bar — “Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row Nashville” — that faces the Ryman Auditorium, which one of the most celebrated venues in country music and a place where Bentley has performed on more than a dozen occasions.
“Just to be standing on this rooftop is so bizarre. You know, looking back in the Ryman Auditorium and looking back on all the bars I used to play … all the dreams,” he said.