Dierks Bentley's "The Mountain" is so relentlessly amiable, even the break-up songs are nice.
"If you gotta let me go, I'm gonna be alright, just don't tell me goodbye, here in Telluride," he sings in the chorus of "Goodbye in Telluride," after a litany of suggestions how his soon-to-be ex could do the deed — text, "letter on my pillowcase." What a guy. None of the acrimony or snark of Bentley's previous, often hilarious breakup hits, "Drunk on a Plane" and "Somewhere on a Beach."
No, this is Bentley's right-with-the world album, and if you've got a problem with that, it doesn't bother the handsome Arizonan. That's the message of "You Can't Bring Me Down" — "I learned how to let go and take the high road, I'm on another level, and you can't bring me down," he sings in the chorus.
And it works.
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Putting together 13 relentlessly happy, hopeful songs runs the risk of coming across as pollyannish. But in Bentley's songwriting and voice, it is an outlook that is born of self awareness, contentment and connection — in part to the title geological formation.
"The Mountain" recounts a climb mixing the struggle and confidence — "It's only a couple million steps, who's counting?" — set to a bluesy grind that bleeds into "Living," an idyllic portrait of mountain-living that is the closest this album treads to bro fantasy. But it doesn't get that close — "It's a beautiful world sometimes I don't see so clear," Bentley observes.
Yes, I am really into the positivity of this album, probably because it is something I'd like to hear at this time when so many people seem to be itching for fights and want to see the glass as half empty. Bentley has another way of looking at things, coming from an honest and rooted perspective.
"The Mountain," inspired in part by a Telluride, Colorado bluegrass festival and Bentley's affinity for the genre, includes contributions from bluegrass stalwarts Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas — who is in Versailles Thursday night playing the Kentucky Castle — and Tim O'Brien, as well as collaborations with the Brothers Osborne ("Burning Man") and Brandi Carlile.
The latter collaboration, with a woman everyone should be listening to now, is the album's penultimate song, "Travelin' Light" — I didn't get track-by-track credits, but that's gotta be Bush's mandolin on the recording. It comes across as the culmination of the album's philosophy, shedding the baggage of a lifetime and enjoying the journey ahead.
Give "The Mountain" a listen, and enjoy the view.