Single Review: Dierks Bentley, “Say You Do”

Dierks Bentley Say You Do

“Say You Do”
Dierks Bentley

Written by Shane McAnally, Matt Ramsey, and Trevor Rosen

Dierks Bentley’s at the top of his game right now. “Say You Do” demonstrates why.

It’s subtle, it’s smart, and it’s self-aware. It’s the type of record that only works with some real life experience to back it up.

Bentley’s so understated that he’s terribly underrated. He’s not a showy vocalist, but the complicated emotions woven into this lyric require a skilled singer to deliver it. In lesser, simpler hands, it could err on the side of either cynicism or sap. Bentley is able to thread the needle, earning empathy while fully rejecting pity.

He’s really the current generation’s Don Williams, which is about a high a compliment as I’ve paid any artist this year.

Grade: A


  1. There is no one like Dierks Bentley in country music. And ” Riser” is his best recording to date. This song is constantly on in my house, in my car, and in my office. It is an excellent song that is performed like a classic. Bentley, like Lambert, is on his way to being one of the few people I will listen to until the day I die. And to compare him to Don Williams only makes me want to hear them sing a duet. Two classic talents.

  2. It would have been very easy (and lucrative) for Bentley to follow some of his contemporaries into shallow bro territory. Kudos to him hat he’s choosing to make music like this instead. He’s building a real legacy.

  3. “Riser” is easily my favorite album of the last year and the one that turned me onto country music. Which is indirectly how I found myself on music blogs tonight, looking for more music that has similar heart.

  4. This album has really been a bounce back for Bentley, whose last couple of albums, aside from his blue grass inspired album, were pretty boring in my eyes. Agree with you “A” grade wholeheartedly.

  5. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every Bentley album except Feel That Fire, though even that album had some good songs on it. Like Craig, he and Miranda Lambert are my favorite mainstream country artists. I just wish he had the popularity that Aldean, Brian and FGL have.

    C., out of curiosity, how did you discover Riser?

  6. Ahem: Where was this “A” when we were compiling our Best Singles of 2014 list and only Tara and I voted for this one?

    I really like the comparison to Williams for where Bentley is in his career right now, though I still think this particular single gives off a very Gary Allan vibe. Either way, he’s drawing comparisons to some awfully fine company. Will second what Leeann said about Bentley ranking alongside Miranda Lambert as my favorite mainstream artists of the moment.

  7. I really, REALLY want to like this song, “Riser” the album, and Dierks Bentley a whole lot more than I do. Much like Kip Moore, I see Bentley as an artist that’s consistently good, but rarely great. I do think that “Settle for a Slowdown”, “Long Trip Alone”, and “Trying To Stop Your Leaving” are some of the best songs of the past decade, but most of the time I find Bentley little more than just “agreeable”.

    I think it has something to do with his voice. It’s not a voice I can really latch on to, and I’m not sure why. His material can also feel awfully pedestrian at times. Whatever the reason, I think “Say You Do” is pleasant, but not much more.

  8. I love Riser, but this song isn’t one of my favorites on the album.

    Hmmm…I particularly like Bentley’s ragged voice and, while he’s no Kristofferson or Prine, I wouldn’t have thought to categorize a good portion of his songs as pedestrian.

  9. Don Williams? High praise indeed. Not sure I can go that far, but I will agree that this song is great. This is a great review as well! “Bentley is able to thread the needle, earning empathy while fully rejecting pity.” You nailed it, Kevin.

  10. This song is screaming for some steel guitar and a fiddle to be layered onto a stripped down production and yet it isn’t there. If they took this song, broke down the Nashville wall of sound by removing the guitars and drum machines and replaced them with steel and fiddle, this song would be gold. However, the Nashville wall of sound creeps up in here when it isn’t needed and brings the song down.

  11. I found “Home” to be a little uneven for me, it just felt like Bentley was trying way too hard to get his mainstream mojo back at radio after the Up On The Ridge didnt make much impact (not that it was intended too). Riser really strikes the middle that I have wanted Bentley to strike for some time now, has some catchy enough songs that are not FGL or Aldean or Bryan stupid, but a number of meatier tracks that can crossover with people who want more substance from their music.

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