Dierks Bentley brought together a little over a hundred people from the Nashville music industry on Monday night (April 18) to introduce his upcoming album, Black. The guest list needed to be select, according to a label staffer, so the weight would not be too heavy on the rooftop of Red Light Management, located in the Gulch.
Bentley posed for photos and chatted with the crowd before, during, and after the party. He was brought to the stage by UMG Nashville Chairman/CEO Mike Dungan, who described Black as “a brilliant example of the way this guy reaches and digs deep to come up with emotions and sounds to convey his message and stay fresh. And he’s done it again. The record you’re about to hear is absolutely a beautiful record that goes in a lot of different directions, and everything says something. Everything is important to him, and it’s just one more step in the evolution of a great music man.”
Although Bentley did not perform, the Capitol Records Nashville artist did take the microphone inside of a elegantly-appointed tent to address the well-wishers.
“I have a long history with Dungan and everyone at Capitol Records,” he said. “I’ve gone through a lot of crazy things. I started off this whole journey being a single guy. That was kind of my thing, you know? Looking back, before Dungan even signed me, I was in a band called Terminally Lonesome. I think the merchandise I was selling on the road had ‘Lonesome’ on it. I don’t even know what that was about.”
He continued, “When I met my wife, my current single at the time was called ‘Lot of Leavin’ Left to Do.’ It was kind of my thing, being the single dude, and I kinda got all thrown off, you know? I fell in love. I feel like we’re still cutting great songs and making really good records, but it’s hard for a producer to work with an artist, a songwriter, or singer who’s trying to find who they are.”
Gazing toward the far end of the tent, Bentley added, “My wife is probably back there crawling in a corner somewhere, but I feel like this record is me fully realizing who I am, feeling comfortable in my skin, and I’m so thankful that she was kind enough to make all of these songs public and share this whole journey that we’ve been on for the last 10 years.
“What I really love about this record is that a lot of it is really autobiographical, a lot of it is really personal, but a lot of it is me as a songwriter exploring ideas and elements of love that I can’t explore, and don’t want to explore, in my real life, like extreme jealousy,” he said with a laugh.
After sharing the back story of a few songs and explaining that the album stretches across different phases of a relationship, he summed up by saying, “I do appreciate everyone sticking with me and getting to this place over the last few years. It’s been a great ride the last 10 years and I don’t know where I go after this record. “
He continued, “I really feel like this is a special album, and it’s really the way it wraps up. The last verse is about my dog Jake, and Jerry Douglas is playing Dobro. The very first song I ever put out, Jake’s on the cover and it’s a big, Dobro-driven song—’What Was I Thinkin’?’ It feels like a complete circle there. I’m really proud of the record. A lot of ‘heartbroken’ went into it, but I feel like there was some magic along the way.”
Although some guests stayed cozy on plush couches, others mingled on the rooftop during the playback. Overall, the vibe was comfortable and casual. Guests were treated to two full bars, a variety of pass-around appetizers, and a black embossed notepad as a souvenir. A substantial portion of the audience stuck around until the end of the party, when Bentley took the microphone again to speak for a few more minutes about what the album meant to him.
During the impromptu remarks, Bentley invited his wife Cassidy (whose maiden name is Black) to come up and speak, but she politely declined. Then he began reminiscing about his transformation from single guy to committed husband, even if it made some of his music video shoots particularly awkward.
“I’m so grateful to be in this time in my life, to be where I am,” he concluded. “I just appreciate my wife so much, and you all just helped me find myself and I really am proud of this record. I am so grateful to all the songwriters and singers. I love the musicians that came out here tonight. I really appreciate everyone from Capitol Records for all the support. I can’t wait to see what happens. It’s been a little weird for this many people to hear the music. I’m grateful and I’m gonna go drink some beer and try to embarrass my wife some more.”
Black will be released on May 27. The project was produced by Ross Copperman and executive producer Arturo Buenahora Jr. Bentley is managed by Mary Hilliard Harrington at Red Light Management.
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