Long Trip Alone
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2006, Volume 13, #11
Written by John Metzger
Dierks Bentley’s self-titled debut may have earned him a heap of attention, but it was his sophomore effort Modern Day Drifter that landed in the Top 10 and spawned a trio of #1 hits, thus turning him into a rapidly rising star. His latest effort Long Trip Alone, then, is designed specifically to keep him in the spotlight, and not surprisingly, it virtually mirrors the successes and failures of its predecessors. Front-loaded with ridiculously safe and wholly uninspired material that is geared toward riding the airwaves of mainstream country radio, the 11-track set takes quite a while to find its focus. Lead single Every Mile a Memory is nothing more than a power ballad that contains a modicum of country twang, and on That Don’t Make It Easy Loving Me, Bentley shamelessly cribs from Waylon Jennings, but he achieves results that are considerably less than stellar.
Fortunately, the latter third of Long Trip Alone fares significantly better: Despite its inherent spirituality, the all-inclusiveness of The Heaven I’m Headed To is a concept that likely is a tad too liberal for a sizeable portion of Bentley’s audience to handle, yet it also contains one of the collection’s most indelible melodies. Striking a jauntily ebullient pose, Free and Easy Down the Road I Go is equally strong, while the spirited road tale Band of Brothers finds the honky-tonk essence that was missing from the early part of the endeavor. Concluding the set is Prodigal Son’s Prayer, which, with the help of The Grascals, is transformed into a powerfully moving plea for redemption. Undeniably, there are too many misses on Long Trip Alone to make the case that Bentley is a genuine country renegade, but within the effort’s final four tracks, he finally loses his penchant for commercial posturing. In the process, he discovers the voice with which he’s frequently been credited. ˝
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box