Dierks Bentley recently wrapped recording on a new studio album, 'Riser,' that he will release in the fall. At a sneak preview on Music Row in Nashville last week, the singer acknowledged that the new project is very different from what he's done in the past.

"I wanted the album to be heavier and a little darker," Bentley tells Billboard. "I think a good country album should have a little bit of it all."

The singer-songwriter recorded 'Riser' in the wake of his father's passing, but he says that's not solely responsible for the direction of the material.

"Maybe subconsciously it influenced it, but it kind of opened a new portal in my life to sing a new reality," Bentley reflects. "A lot of stuff has gone on in [the] culture in general -- school shootings and stuff like that. It opened up bigger things to write about, and on songs like 'Riser' and 'Here On Earth,' it kind of comprises the core of that, but there are tracks like 'Pretty Girls' that don't really fit in the 'Riser' theme, but there's a similar sound that makes it work together."

The first single from the album, 'Bourbon in Kentucky,' features Kacey Musgraves on harmony vocals and is already at radio. Bentley says he feels re-invigorated by his new direction.

"I'm really excited about the album. It kind of goes against the grain of what's working out there right now," he observes. "I'm just trying to make what's inside of me come out, and if it works or not, I can't control that."