Fans who’ve seen Dierks Bentley on his recent club run, the reprised High Times and Hangovers Tour, have been getting a first listen to a new song that the singer hasn’t released yet, called “Beers on Me.” The rest of the world will hear it soon enough: Not only is Bentley planning to drop “Beers on Me” in the near future, but it’s also the namesake of his upcoming fall tour.
Born from a co-writing session in Colorado, “Beers on Me” was the product of a team effort from some of the best in the business. Bentley wrote it with Ashley Gorley, Ross Copperman and Luke Dick, three songwriting industry stalwarts who’ve written multiple No. 1 hits a piece (and Gorley holds a country radio record, with 52 chart-topping songs in total to his name.) But “Beers on Me” had two other collaborators, too — those were HARDY and Breland, two of the genre’s most promising upstarts, who’ve established themselves not only as songwriters but also as artists who are on the forefront of shaping the future of the country genre.
Bentley says that being around talented young songwriters, and seeing the innovations they were making in the format, is inspiring. “It’s just fun being around them — [seeing] the way they write, the way they operate, the way they work,” the singer told Country Now and other outlets during a recent virtual press event.
“It’s just really refreshing, to see that there’s a whole ‘nother generation coming up, that’s killing it, and passionate. Really, I have a lot to learn from those guys and girls,” he adds, specifying that Breland was a late addition to “Beers on Me.” After the initial songwriting session, he came across an article about the young singer-songwriter, and was so fascinated by his story that he decided to call him up and ask him to come be a part of the song.
“I was like, ‘I’m gonna call this guy up….there’s a third verse he could take.’ And I did. And he came over the next day,” Bentley recounts. “He completely blew our minds. I gave him the verse…He said he wanted to make a few lyrical changes maybe, and I was like, ‘Yeah, go for it.’ Within 20 minutes, he wrote a completely different verse. I mean, it took us a while to actually figure out some of the things he was saying. He was just so clever.”
While the addition of Breland made the songwriting process for “Beers on Me” unique, Bentley says that much of his new material started in the same way: With him and a group of his songwriter friends, hanging out and having fun.
“There’s been a couple different songwriting sessions in Colorado. Sometimes we were writing with five guys at one time, just because it was fun to all be together in a room writing songs. We didn’t wanna break up into smaller groups,” the singer explains, going on to say that he went into making his next album less focused on adhering to a theme and more focused on getting back to having fun with the musicians he admires most. He partnered with Brett Beavers, who produced his early records, and Jon Randall, who worked on Bentley’s 2010 bluegrass project, Up on the Ridge.
“[I focused mostly on] just songs that make me feel good…and that I enjoy singing, and working with people that I enjoy working with, just seeing what happens. And not being so laser-focused on an idea,” Bentley clarifies. “I just thought about, ‘Let’s write a lot of songs, and then we can start chiseling away and see what we have.’ I’ve really enjoyed that process, and I’m not done writing now….I’m not really feeling a huge rush to call it, to wrap it all up.”
And although the songwriting process might be expansive and all-inclusive, Bentley cautions fans that his album’s final track list probably won’t be. Artists like Thomas Rhett, Alan Jackson, Eric Church and Morgan Wallen all released double or super-sized projects in 2021, but Bentley says he’s not planning to join them.
“Yeah, no. Definitely not,” he chuckles. “My goal with this record is just to have, like, 30 songs that I really love and then make the hard choice to narrow it down to, like, 10, 11….that’s not a dig against anybody else. That’s amazing that those guys are doing that, and I get it.”
But personally, he says, he’ll feel more confident in the project he’s making if he can narrow it down to a short, powerful track list. “You know, when you have to make hard choices, that you’re making a great record — when you’re fighting over songs, and you just can’t believe that a song’s not gonna make the album,” Bentley explains.
“There’s been times I’ve wanted to make those bigger albums,” he admits, but “a really concise record would feel right, right now, for me.”