The singer goes back to 1988 for his pick of the best record ever to win a CMA Award

By Danielle Anderson
October 28, 2014 08:05 AM
Kat Villacorta

With the CMA Awards a little over a week away, PEOPLE asked the Album of the Year nominees to look back and share their favorite winning albums from the past.

For Dierks Bentley, it’s Hank Williams Jr.’s Born to Boogie, which took home the prize in 1988.

“Every song on that album is awesome,” says Bentley, 38. “I can’t say enough good things about Hank Jr. and his influence on all of us in country music He’s that guy that came in with all the great songs, great lyrics that were really relevant to the times.”

So for Bentley’s eighth studio album, Riser, to now be nominated in that same category is a dream come true for the singer.

In the process of making the record, which he describes as “extremely personal,” Bentley experienced the devastation of having his dad pass away and then the elation of becoming a father for the third time when wife Cassidy gave birth to their first son.

RELATED: Dierks Bentley Reveals the Real Story Behind ‘Drunk on a Plane’

“There was kind of this roller coaster of grief to gratitude going on,” Bentley told PEOPLE. “It ended up being a reflection of what the last two years were like for me … The album is about my life moreso than any other record I have ever written or recorded.”

Hear more from Bentley in the clip above, and check back tomorrow for Luke Bryan’s Album of the Year favorite. The CMA Awards air live on Wednesday, Nov. 5, on ABC.

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