Rolling Stone - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "[D]arkness is at the troubled heart of the first half of BLACK, Dierks Bentley's adventurous 21st century take on cheating songs and the reclamation of love, which marks the most fully satisfying of the country superstar's LP's since 2010's brilliant bluegrass disc, UP ON THE RIDGE."
Spin - "No one can say BLACK isn't ambitious, and it's nuanced too; easily Bentley's most personal, affecting release yet."
Personnel: Jonathan Yudkin (strings).
Audio Mixer: F. Reid Shippen.
Recording information: Arlyn Studios, Austin, TX; Blackbird Studios, Nashville, TN; Buckjump Studios, New Orleans, LA; Monster Island Studio, Nashville, TN; My Place, Franklin, TN; Ocean Way Studios, Nashville, TN; Southern Ground Nashville, Nashville, TN; The Red Room, Nashville, TN.
Photographer: Jim Wright .
Arranger: Jonathan Yudkin.
On the album art of Black, his eighth album, Dierks Bentley appears in a seemingly foreign atmosphere for the country singer: the stylish, sexy streets of a city at night. This change in setting -- previously, Bentley has been seeing picking on a porch, grinning in an alley, staring into the sunset, and chilling with a dog -- doesn't necessarily suggest a leap into crossover country-pop, but there's little question that the sultry gloss of Black is a consolidation of 2014's Riser, a record slicker and straighter than its predecessors. Call it maturation as much as a shift in aesthetics. Now 40, Bentley doesn't spend as much time raising the roof as he once did, preferring slow grooves and smoky textures. When he gets loose, it's in a measured fashion: "Somewhere on a Beach" and "Roses and a Time Machine," tacit sequels to "Drunk on a Plane," march to a beat so deliberate that revelry seems like an afterthought, even when Dierks sings about "edumacation." Only when he brings Trombone Shorty in for a cameo on "Mardi Gras" does the pace actually quicken, but Black is intentionally bereft of such carefree moments. Alternating impeccable midtempo anthems and soft ballads -- the latter including duets with Maren Morris ("I'll Be the Moon") and Elle King ("Different for Girls") -- Black winds up gelling into gently pulsing AAA-country. It's mood music, sometimes playing as smooth as a seduction but better suited for moments of introspection when you're surrounded by a crowd and need to isolate. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine