Review Summary: "An open-road heart case, a honky tonk lost cause."
It isn't an overstatement to claim that 2020 has been an absolutely abysmal year. While we've had our share of fantastic country music, from Honey Harper to Zack Bryan, the world is literally on-fire and the human race is falling apart. Whether it be through divisive over-politicization or global pandemics locking us away from our loved ones, 2020 has been a disaster. Like many, a schmuck like myself had to find solitude in something and that something ended up being music (along with a plethora of movies). This being a year that reignited my passion for country music, revisiting older albums became an essential task. One artist who kept popping-up was Dierks Bentley, who left an impression first-and-foremost with his 2014 hit "Drunk on a Plane"; a fun, rowdy little gem.
Moving backward in his discography, almost a whole decade earlier, he crafted this underappreciated masterpiece known as Long Trip Alone; with a title such as this, of course it'd be the perfect record to play in 2020. Immediately leaving a wonderful impression, "Every Mile a Memory" is a beautiful opening tune which provides the pitch-perfect showcase for Mr. Bentley's irresistible charm. The title-track, "Long Trip Alone", may just be the best song on the record and easily the most underrated single from this artist. Gorgeous instrumentation, fiddle and steel abound, accompanied by a majestic vocal performance from Dierks carries this entire record from start-to-finish, making it a breeze for even non-country fans to enjoy. As proof of that, look at the most successful single: "Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)".
This aforementioned track is so rollicking across the board that it made its way onto Rock Band as downloadable content. A sensationally groovy tune that sees Dierks deliver a calming, restrained performance which enables the bass, electric and pedal steel guitar-work to take center-stage in this colossally-engaging tune. Long Trip Alone closes on a mesmerizing, foot stomping note from the inmates of Charles Bass Correctional Complex with "Prodigal Son's Prayer". Peaceful, powerful and cathartic are the words that come to mind when reviewing an album like this. It is very simple in a lot of ways, though that simplicity is exactly what makes the message on the entirety of this package so enlightening. "The Heaven I'm Headed To" is so monumentally moving in its proclamation that even the most flawed people can make it to that big ole Heartbreak Hotel in the sky ("in the heaven I'm headed to there's a place for preachers, thieves and prostitutes") that it may just bring you to tears. This is an inspired, hope-filled masterpiece; easily accessible and wholly entertaining throughout, one of the best country records ever produced.