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album review | COUNTRY

Dierks Bentley, ‘Home’

Curly-topped country singer Dierks Bentley took the rural route on his last release, the superb country-bluegrass blend “Up on the Ridge.’’ With the help of some of the best pickers available, and friends like Jamey Johnson and Miranda Lambert, he followed his roots wanderlust to great effect. For the follow-up, he heads back on the main highway to Nashville. The result is a solid collection of good time country rockers (“Am I the Only One,’’ “5-1-5-0’’), poignant ballads (the heartwarmingly patriotic-yet-personal title track), and contemporary radio bait (the midtempo ripper “Tip It on Back’’ and the jaunty “Heart of a Lonely Girl’’). But Bentley was clearly moved by the sound of “Ridge,’’ as its textures unobtrusively infiltrate “Home’’ - including dusty fiddles, ringing banjos, and wisps of pedal steel. There are several standouts here: A sultry duet with Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town on “When You Gonna Come Around’’ has a sensual charm, and album closer “Thinking of You’’ is a gentle lullaby of affirmation to his family that features a snippet of his young daughter singing the refrain - which could’ve been cloying, but ends up simply sweet. (Out tomorrow)

ESSENTIAL “Home’’

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