Darius Rucker - Charleston, SC 1966
2010, Capitol Records Nashville
Darius Rucker rose to fame as the voice of Hootie & The Blowfish, blasting out of the South Carolina bar/frat scene in the early nineties with a string of Top-40 hits from their 19-times platinum debut album Cracked Rear View. While never matching the magnitude of their initial success, Hootie & The Blowfish carved out their own niche in pop music over the course of five successful studio albums and significant charity work. Rucker's first foray into solo work was with the 2002 R&B album Back To Then, a moderate success. In 2008, Rucker signed with Capitol Nashville as a country artist, releasing Learn To Live, which generated three #1 singles, a platinum album and CMA Award for Best New Country Artist. Rucker recently returned with his second country album, Charleston, SC 1966, already earning his fourth #1 country single.
Charleston, SC 1966 opens with “This", a love song that gives thanks for all the things that didn't work out along the way ala Garth Brooks' "Unanswered Prayers”. The song is a brilliant blend of country and the sort of pop/rock associated Hootie and other Charleston bands of the early 1990's. "Come Back Song" is a feel good country/rock with a solid melody; a competent album track. "Might Get Lucky" is all about using honey to get sugar. It's a love song written from a predominately male perspective, where utilitarian meets a realization of how lucky he is.
"Southern State Of Mind" is a brilliant tune about missing/loving home. Much like Billy Joel's "New York State Of Mind" in title and approach, "Southern State Of Mind" features a vocal performance that simply rolls into your ears and the melody sticks with you. "Love Will Do That" is a catchy country rocker that explores love's ability to turn your world on its ear, particularly when it’s new. "The Craziest Thing" keeps this idea rolling with practical application. Exuberant and full of joy, "The Craziest Thing" is as catchy a tune as you'll find on a 2010 release, and it wouldn't be hard to imagination this one providing Rucker with a fifth #1.
"We All Fall Down" is a song about the humanity of humanity, as it were. Rucker manages to sound mournful and confident at once, inspired by a beautiful and stirring melody. "I Don't Care" is a good-time buddy song about girl watching and features Brad Paisley in a duet with Rucker. Drop this as a single leading into the summer months and it will rule country radio all season long. "She's Beautiful" is a celebratory love song, one of two or three songs on the album that's decent but a bit mundane. This one will at least inspire some interest as a dedication/mix tape song. "I Got Nothin'" is enjoyable country/pop with a sad edge, with a great melody that manages to be catchy in spite of the melancholy feel. Rucker closes with "In A Big Way", a song about getting back to the joys of a simpler life where things like home, family and time spent together mean the most. This is another potential big hit for Rucker; a wonderfully memorable melody with an iconic feel and gorgeous cadences that make you want to sing along.
Darius Rucker could succeed in almost any genre, in almost any era. Mixing an iconic voice, a brilliant sense of melody, an affable personality and a team of crack co-writers who keep him honest, Rucker could turn out hits by the dozen over the years. Longtime fans were a bit surprised by Rucker's turn to country music in 2008, but he showed not only that he belonged with Learn To Live, but also the sort of humility and grace that are rare in a top-shelf performer. Charleston, SC 1966 finds Darius Rucker picking up where he left off. The songwriting is superb, and Rucker's voice is as enjoyable as ever. Perhaps most importantly, Rucker has made sometimes melancholy country form his own without losing the easy grace of his earlier work with Hootie And The Blowfish. One suspects that the time will come when Rucker will cross back over into the pop/rock realm not so much by forsaking country music as by dragging it across the divide with him. Charleston, SC 1966 is utterly brilliant, a Wildy’s World Certified Desert Island Disc.
Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Darius Rucker at http://www.dariusrucker.com/ or www.myspace.com/dariusrucker. Charleston, SC 1966 is available from Amazon.com as a CD, Deluxe Edition CD with DVD or Download. iTunes has the album in both Standard and Deluxe versions.