Country star Dierks Bentley is "not really in a rush" to put out his next album -- the follow-up to 2010's Grammy Award-nominated bluegrass diversion "Up On the Ridge" -- but he's already got the project well under way.
"We've cut the tracks for 15 songs, and I'm trying to sing on the record now," Bentley, who's currently headlining the Jaegermeister Country Tour, tells Billboard.com. "But it's impossible for me to do this Jaeger tour and go in and do vocals, too. So I might have to wait a little longer to make sure I have exactly the best possible vocals I can put on."
Bentley says that might mean he's looking at a fall release for the as-yet-untitled album, but he's already giving fans a taste of it via his uptempo new single, "Am I the Only One," which is currently scaling the country charts. "I wanted to have something out there for the summertime, and this just felt like the right song for that," says Bentley, who wrote 11 of the 15 tracks himself and expects to put 12 or 13 on the final album. "I've been off the radio for a while 'cause I wanted to make an album that was important to me, musically, but wasn't as commercial. But now I want to be back on (radio) and I wanted my fans to hear our stuff. I just wanted to come back with a song that was fun for fans and fun for country radio and fun for us to play every night...and ('Am I the Only One') fits in there."
Video: Dierks Bentley performs "Am I the Only One"
But Bentley says the song is "not representative of the whole rest of the album," which he says covers a wide gamut of styles, subjects, feels and moods. "I've always covered a wide gauntlet of stuff, and this album's gonna do the same thing," he explains. "I can't think of what to call it except just country, my kind of country music. I don't have a good explanation for it other than it's not bluegrass. There's some fun songs, some heartbreak songs...and of course being a dad now, too, that works its way in there. I'm really proud of it. I think we developed a cool sound."
Bentley recorded the tracks for the album over five days in early February in Asheville, N.C., with "Up On the Ridge" producer Jon Randall Stewart. Some 30,000 fans checked out the sessions via an online stream, which Bentley says made recording "more exciting. Having people outside watching us was kind of weird; we'd all come in from a take and look at the computer and see what they had written about us. It added a little levity to the situation and made it kind of fun."
Bentley says he might release a second single from the album before its release. Meanwhile, fans wanting another taste of new music from him can check out "Line No. 7," his contribution to Esquire magazine's "Last Night in Detroit" songwriting project in its annual music issue, which hits newsstands April 26. Bentley's performance of "Cinnamon Girl" at this years "A MusiCares Tribute to Neil Young" will also be part of the DVD of the event, which comes out May 31.
The Jagermeister Country Tour runs through May 13. After that, Bentley will take his "Miles and Music For Kids" motorcycle ride and charity concert, traditionally held in Nashville, on the road to Columbus, Ohio, on May 22, where he'll be joined by Joe Nichols, Josh Thompson, Uncle Kracker and Miss Willie Brown. Proceeds will go to Columbus' Nationwide Children's Hospital.