Dierks Bentley was born in Phoenix, Arizona -- not exactly a hotbed of country music activity. Yet, perhaps because he was schooled in the music of Hank Williams and George Strait (thanks to his dad), Dierks has become one of modern country music's more traditional-leaning artists. Still, he's the first to admit he can't take it too far.

"I can't sing stuff that is overly country,'" Dierks tells American Songwriter magazine. "I wasn't raised on a farm and I'm not really comfortable singing stuff that's not who I am. But I've traveled and I've been all over this country, and I've found that country music isn't about wearing a cowboy hat and growing up on a farm. It's a lifestyle, it's a culture, and it's a mindset."

Also in the interview, Dierks discusses his creative process, and talks about writing with Rodney Crowell, his collaborator on the song 'Pray' from Dierks' latest album, 'Feel That Fire.'

"I said my hallelujahs before I crossed the threshold into his house," says Dierks. "It was one of the coolest things ever. We wrote the song in his kitchen. We went out for lunch and had some Mexican food and a couple of cervezas at a local Mexican joint. I knew we had something there [with the song] but it wasn't totally finished."

But thanks to his iPod and his wife Cassidy, Dierks was able to complete the song.

"I have a playlist of about 100 pieces [of songs] like that on my iPod and Cassidy likes to take my iPod and go jogging to it. That's how she found 'Free and Easy,' which was a Garage Band thing I had done, and she said that was pretty cool. And the same with 'Pray.' She said, 'This is an amazing song. You guys have got to finish this.' So I finished it, cleaned it up and sent it back to Rodney. I still have the e-mail. He said, 'Wow, I had no idea what we had written that day. This completely exceeds my expectations.' And now Rodney is a friend and I plan on writing a lot more with him, because I can. A lot of people can't. He doesn't write with everybody."

'Feel That Fire' also features songs written with the Warren Brothers, and includes special appearances by bluegrass musician Ronnie McCoury and singer-songwriter Patty Griffin.