Dierks Bentley
Credit: Danny Clinch

Image Credit: Danny ClinchCountry star Dierks Bentley‘s new album Up On the Ridge drops June 8, and the Music Mix is counting down by streaming three exclusive tracks from the all-acoustic “bluegrass-influenced” project — a definite departure for the dude who just last year wanted us all to get a little “Sideways.” For inspiration, Bentley says he drew on his younger days at Nashville’s famed Station Inn, and wanted to reclaim some “musical turf” he thought he’d lost. “I’ve always made the records that I wanted to make, but the trappings of success come with playing it safe,” he admits. “I just needed to get off the grid and do something different. In the end, I think people will go for it, and if they don’t, I think they’ll respect the fact that I tried.”

In lieu of more singles with long, road or leaving in the title (we kid because we love), Bentley brought in collaborators like Miranda Lambert, Jamey Johnson, Vince Gill, Kris Kristofferson, and the Punch Brothers. He covered Dylan, Buddy and Julie Miller, even U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)” — with Del McCoury on high harmonies. The guests pitched in out of friendship, not ambition, says Bentley. “I called their cell phones directly,” he says, then pauses. “Kristofferson I did not call,” he laughs.

“Draw Me a Map” — co-written by Bentley and featuring a guest vocal from bluegrass queen Alison Krauss herself — is track one of our three exclusives; the next two will run tomorrow and Monday, before Tuesday’s release of Up On the Ridge. Give a listen, and then give us your thoughts in the comments. And don’t forget to come back tomorrow for another new tune!

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