After three studio albums and a greatest hits collection, Bentley’s star is sure to continue to rise with “Feel That Fire.” The title track, about a girl who wants it all and the guy who’s going to give it to her, is already top 5 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
If you need any further proof that his station in life has risen, look who Bentley’s writing with on the album: heavy hitters like Rodney Crowell (“Pray”) and Rivers Rutherford (“Better Believer”).
“Feel That Fire” is a slick mix of country and rock that’s instantly appealing because every song sounds slightly like another song you already know. There’s a certain check-off-the -list quality here: Sexy, swooning, ballad (“I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes”), Check; High-octane, “I got a girl and a pick-up-truck” raver (“Here She Comes, Here We Go”), Check; the mid-tempo ‘I’m nothing without you,’ slow burner (Keith Urban-rip-off “You Hold Me Together”), Check.
But there are also moments that stand out: Bentley and Patti Griffin duet on “Beautiful World,” a lovely, moving tune about finding grace and hope in a world that often offers little of either that is elevated by their performances. There’s also the uptempo “Better Believer,” which addresses in an original way why we only look up to God when things are looking down. “Last Call,” written by Del McCoury’s son Ronnie, extends into fun, flat-out, blue-grass rave up.
Many of these songs like the fast-breaking, bluegrass-tinged “Heartwrecker” and time-to-party anthem, “Sideways,” will likely gain energy and momentum when played live.
Bentley has a strong solid voice, but it’s impossible to listen to these songs and not wish that he’d let himself go a little. There’s virtually no emotion attachment to the material in his voice (a notable exception is “Pray”). When he sings “I want to take you somewhere out there til the world fades out of sight” in “I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes,” he might as well be talking about going to Wal-Mart instead of making love. It’s a shame because the songs are catchy and his voice appealing enough that with some extra oomph, this could have been an exceptional album, not just a really good one.