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    Black Capitol / Capitol Nashville

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Review Text On the album art of Black, his eighth album, Dierks Bentley appears in a seemingly foreign atmosphere for the country singer: the stylish, sexy streets of a city at night. This change in setting -- previously, Bentley has been seeing picking on a porch, grinning in an alley, staring into the sunset, and chilling with a dog -- doesn't necessarily suggest a leap into crossover country-pop, but there's little question that the sultry gloss of Black is a consolidation of 2014's Riser, a record slicker and straighter than its predecessors. Call it maturation as much as a shift in aesthetics. Now 40, Bentley doesn't spend as much time raising the roof as he once did, preferring slow grooves and smoky textures. When he gets loose, it's in a measured fashion: "Somewhere on a Beach" and "Roses and a Time Machine," tacit sequels to "Drunk on a Plane," march to a beat so deliberate that revelry seems like an afterthought, even when Dierks sings about "edumacation." Only when he brings Trombone Shorty in for a cameo on "Mardi Gras" does the pace actually quicken, but Black is intentionally bereft of such carefree moments. Alternating impeccable midtempo anthems and soft ballads -- the latter including duets with Maren Morris ("I'll Be the Moon") and Elle King ("Different for Girls") -- Black winds up gelling into gently pulsing AAA-country. It's mood music, sometimes playing as smooth as a seduction but better suited for moments of introspection when you're surrounded by a crowd and need to isolate. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. Black - 4:31
  2. 2. Pick Up - 4:34
  3. 3. I'll Be the Moon - 4:30
  4. 4. What the Hell Did I Say - 3:27
  5. 5. Somewhere on a Beach - 3:17
  6. 6. Freedom - 4:36
  7. 7. Why Do I Feel - 4:59
  8. 8. Roses and a Time Machine - 4:39
  9. 9. All the Way to Me - 4:39
  10. 10. Different for Girls - 3:00
  11. 11. Mardi Gras - 4:50
  12. 12. Light It Up - 4:36
  13. 13. Can't Be Replaced - 6:40

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