EPs are often like movie sequels in that they often feel like a ploy to make a few dollars instead of a chance for an artist to expand upon a theme. Much like ‘Empire Strikes Back,’ and more recently, ‘Toy Story 2′, Dierks Bentley‘s ‘Country and Cold Cans’ proves to be an exception. 

The five-song project is a blast of warm summer air focused on a single theme: Beer. Bentley dodges country cliches and avoids cheesy production in his attempt to bring the party to life. The first song, appropriately named ‘Cold Cans,’ includes a shoutout to his dog, Jake, and Merle Haggard before getting to the hook.

Somethings just go hand in hand / And for people like me that’s country and cold cans,” Bentley sings. It’s not a brilliant lyric, but there are some clever rhymes, and if feels good from start to finish.

‘Grab a Beer’ is unique and maybe a little awkward, but give it a chance. The garage-rock feel rides a heavy guitar riff that opens the song. There are a few generic references — the old Bud Light slogan, for example — but the singer works them into his nouveau production in a way that makes one want to start the, “Tastes great, less filling” argument all over again. Towards the end, Bentley seems to be improvising, and the song gets away from him in the final 30 seconds.

‘Country and Cold Cans’ takes a dip with the rambling ‘Back Porch’ and rowdy ‘Summer on Fire’ before getting to the single. ‘Tip It on Back’ was also included on Bentley’s most recent studio album, but sounds better here after two songs that wouldn’t be strong enough to make a future full-length.

Bentley”s signature looseness makes the summer party palpable. The ‘Country and Cold Cans’ EP is more of a favorite style of the ‘Home’ singer’s, but there are a few artistic nuances that make the extended play CD much more than a something to soon be found unchecked from iPod playlists.

3.5 Stars

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