By Andrew W. Griffin
Red Dirt Report, editor
For Darius Rucker’s second country music outing, his Charleston, SC 1966 (a title featuring his birthplace and year paying homage to Radney Foster’s 1992 album Del Rio, TX 1959), is a step beyond his debut, Learn to Live, from 2008.
Rucker is a showman and a great singer with a warm baritone that has won many over. When I saw him open up for Rascal Flatts last year I was struck by what an engaging entertainer he was.
Having fronted South Carolina-based roots-pop band Hootie & The Blowfish for over two decades, Rucker has established himself as an appealing, engaging vocalist who has also bridged the racial gap that is even more of a feat now that he’s firmly planted in the country-pop world. Of course that path was previously blazed by Charley Pride.
The aforementioned Radney Foster offers his songwriting credentials as a co-writer on the mid-tempo “Might Get Lucky.” It’s pure Dad country, with sentiments that are appealing for guys who are well past their 20th high school reunion.
On “This,” the first track on C-SC ’66, Rucker sings about all the things he missed in life that ultimately led him to his significant other. Certainly a sentiment I can relate to.
Rucker used fellow South Carolinian Frank Rogers to produce the album. And since Rogers has produced a number of popular country artists ranging from Trace Adkins to Brad Paisley, the choice makes sense. Rogers makes sure Rucker’s vocals are mixed well amidst the guitars, drums and traditional country instruments.
Speaking of Paisley, the wisecrackin’ West Virginian appears on “I Don’t Care,” a barroom tune that reminds me a little of the Pat Green song “College” that Paisley guested on back in ’04. Rucker, 44, and Paisley, 38, may seem a little old for a song that embraces the drinking patterns of people half their age. Oh well, 40 is the new 20 these days, right?
“Come Back Song,” the popular lead single, is a smooth tune while on “Southern State of Mind” the acoustic anger of “Drowning,” the 1994 song he recorded with Hootie on the hit album Cracked Rear View, is nowhere to be found. The “rebel flag hanging from the state house walls” is not foremost on his mind, rather a cool glass of sweet tea, in New York City.
Rucker stretches himself a bit on the maudlin, pedal-steel infused “Whiskey and You.” Another song, “Things I’d Never Do,” is appealing to a degree, with the line “I’d never lose my cool and say / Those words that cut just like a blade / And leave you dying, crying all alone.”Yet, I can’t say, that even with a nice guitar solo, it will stick with me.
Bela Fleck shows up with his banjo on “Love Will Do That,” a song that incorporates other traditional bluegrass instruments like mandolin, courtesy of Sam Bush. With a that flourish of New Grass Revival on the song, it makes for the best, if not most interesting, song on the album. In fact, this is the sort of song – a bit challenging and a little less pop – that Rucker needs to embrace a little more often.
That said, it would be safe to say that just about every song on Charleston, SC 1966 is ready for radio airplay. Whether or not that’s a good thing to you, the listener, has yet to be determined. In the meantime, enjoy the tunes, y’all.
Grade – B
Copyright 2010 West Marie Media
Thanks again to Andrew for this great review. I want to remind the rest of my readers, if you have a new CD you would like to review, maybe because you love it, or maybe because it was a little less than you expected; or if you go to a concert and would like to share your pictures and thoughts with readers, please e-mail them to me. I’d love to get your thoughts and pass them on to my readers.
This will rap things up for this morning. I will catch up with you all real soon!