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Dierks Bentley heads into the "Black" with latest album
Dierks Bentley says he spent six months planning for his new Somewhere On A Beach Tour -- named after the first single from his upcoming album, "Black."
That means things were already finely tuned when the show finally hit the road last week.
"This is a big tour, man," Bentley, 40, says by phone from the trek's second stop, in Pittsburgh. "There's a lot going on. I feel like it's big, but it's intimate, too. We try to find ways to make it feel like we're not really playing a place that holds 15,000 people, but at the same time when it needs to look big it can look big.
"I hope it looks big, 'cause it was really expensive to put together," he adds with a laugh. "I want it to have the option to look big when I want it to but also look smaller and more intimate when possible. It's what I've always wanted and dreamed of, so I'm having the time of my life"
The tour comes with Bentley at arguably a career pinnacle. Not that popularity has been a problem; since 2001 all eight of his major label albums have been Top 6 on the country chart, and five have hit No. 1. Add to that 14 No. 1 country airplay hits -- including "Somewhere On a Beach" -- a dozen Grammy Award nominations and a pair of Country Music Association Awards, and a co-hosting slot with good pal Luke Bryan for this year's Academy of Country Music Awards and Bentley is in decidedly first gear these days.
And he hopes the "Black" album -- which comes out May 27 -- will show that his creative ambitions are also on the rise.
"I feel like I'm making my best records now," explains Bentley, who credits his 2005 marriage and his three children for some of that growth. "I feel really comfortable wtih my life and writing about my life and getting that injected in my records. It was kind of a switch from being a single guy and carrying the torch of that lifestyle and then switch gears and adjust to who I am now.
"So I feel the most comfortable now being me and using these songs to help me make albums -- not just a collection of songs that I write but really trying to find themes that can carry through the whole length of a record."
That's led Bentley to be open to recording more outside material -- five of "Black's" 13 tracks, in fact, were written by others. And Bentley says he actually feels more pressure recording those than coming up with his own material.
"When you record someone else's song there's a lot of pressure," he says. "You're like, 'Man, I've got to honor this song. This may be one of three songs this songwriter writes this year that can be a hit and they're giving it to me and I've got to do a great job with the song and really make it as great as it can be.'
"So the challenge to me is not writing and going through my own stuff; It's going through these great songs I get and try to make them better than when they came to me. That's a lot of pressure, man. It's something to live up to."
Dierks Bentley, Randy Houser, Cam and Tucker Beathard
7 p.m. Sunday, May 22.
DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township.
Tickets are $55.75 and $40.75 pavilion, $31 lawn.
Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com.
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