Inspiration comes in many forms for Dierks Bentley.
His current album, “The Mountain,” is about his climb in the music industry over the past 15 years.
“Anything looks big when you face it in totality,” he says in an interview. “It’s like, ‘How am I ever going to solve this problem? How am I ever gonna get to the top?’ But if you take it one step at a time and just keep grinding away, you can do it.”
The Arizona native has amassed 17 No. 1 singles, as well as 13 Grammy nominations.
He’s built a reputation as both a dedicated family man and a forever-young drifter, put in millions of miles on headlining tours and taken the fearless stylistic detours of a truly authentic artist.
With “The Mountain,” Bentley continues that journey, taking more chances and pulling inspiration from the twisted peaks surrounding a tiny town in Colorado — as well as the uphill battles his fans face every day.
Bentley says the story begins in the Rocky Mountain resort town of Telluride, Colo., which every summer hosts a celebrated bluegrass festival.
Bentley has attended the festival multiple times over the years, always making a point to slow down and tune back in to the world around him.
But after he performed on the festival’s main stage in 2017, the idyllic surroundings became more than a much-needed getaway.
“I found myself there, constantly reaching for my guitar,” he says. “It was like a gravitational pull. That town and those people just make you want to be creative; I couldn’t describe it. I was like, ‘How do I tell everyone in Nashville this is what I want to write about?’ I realized I couldn’t bring it back, so I had to take everyone out there.”
Returning in August 2017 with six of his most trusted songwriting collaborators, Bentley and his fellow songwriters bunked up in a small house together, explored the area and dug deep into the peaceful, reflective vibes he was feeling.
They had five days to work with and were hoping to write eight songs, but ended up with nearly twice that number, forming the core of the record.
“For me it’s the best of both worlds, and it feels like something new,” he says. “It’s powerful but also happy, with acoustic sensibility mixed in with the big sounds I like to have for the road.”