‘Say You Do’ – Single Review
Dierks Bentley is having a year to remember. ‘Riser’ may have been drawn from much pain and took a while to finally reach our speakers, but it was a critically-acclaimed release that also saw decent sales success, already topping many Best of 2014 lists. Then there are the singles. ‘Bourbon In Kentucky’ wasn’t a radio hit but a fan favorite that saw him team up with critics’ darling Kacey Musgraves, while ‘I Hold On’ was a #1 and ‘Drunk On A Plane’ was an even bigger smash, spending two full weeks at the top on both Billboard and Mediabase. The latter became one of the songs of the summer, and Dierks’ take on bro-country still had the trends’ fiercest critics admitting he had done a good job, balancing a party song with a deeper story underneath. There were many songs to choose from when considering the follow-up; ‘Riser’ is not only packed with great songs, but also radio hits, and it was going to be tough to pick between them.
‘Say You Do’ has always been a favorite of mine since the album hit stores last February, so I was more than pleased to see that they had chosen it out of six or seven contenders, although truthfully there were few I would have actually minded being released. The track is a slow burner; nowhere is that more clear than with the video, which shows scenes with Dierks traveling up to a remote log cabin solo, slow motion shots becoming the order of the day. Pretty, tinkling acoustic guitar begins the track, soon joined by its cousin an octave lower, Dierks’ voice rumbling over the sparse arrangement with husky, soulful, sexy tones, while muted percussion introduces a gentle, non-invasive beat. It’s not too long before his trademark jangling guitars fill the space and the senses, but things are kept restrained throughout, and even as the song builds through the second verse we get the distinct impression they are being cautious. The only time we fill like they are going for a climax is in the final chorus and extended outro, but this is now a long-awaited moment that is atmospheric and emotionally powerful, guided carefully by the lyrical progression.
And oh, the lyrics. There is something gloriously romantic about the loneliness, the desperation, the hopeless, wistful longing in this character’s plea and yet something so devastatingly masochistic, so sad, that even if we haven’t experienced that situation, we feel like we have. “Don’t worry about the damage done, just let those words roll off your tongue,” he sings, “even if you’re lying.” He’s talking to an old lover, someone he still holds a torch for, someone he still longs to be tangled up with. He begs her to lead him on, pretend she still loves him, but admits he doesn’t care if she leaves straight afterwards, doesn’t mind if she tears his heart in two again, he just wants her, needs her, for that night. It’s potent, full of emotive language; “Mess me up, get in my head, steal my t-shirt, wreck my bed” he implores on the chorus, almost cinematic in the way the images come to mind. We’ve all been there, whether as the unfathomable woman, or the helpless man.
There’s a lot to be said for Dierks’ delivery too, and he produces the best performance I think he could possibly give, making every word, every syllable believable. I don’t know if this song will be as big on radio as its predecessors, but it’s a damn good song and will still make top 10, and I respect him wholeheartedly for releasing something with such substance instead of going for the easy option in ‘Sounds of Summer’ or ‘Back Porch’. Here’s to the format embracing this track and all others like it.
Originally posted on For the country record