Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Music fans probably recognize the name Darius Rucker pretty quickly from his work with Hootie and the Blowfish. Now, the country music community is getting to know him really well with his new solo project titled “Learn to Live.” Now, here lately, quite a few artists from other styles of music have tried to break into the world of country music. Some have done well, others, well not so much. I’ve come to the conclusion that Darius Rucker understands two things. First, an understanding that lyrics are important in a country song. Second, he also he knows marketing; what will sell and what won’t in contemporary country music. You see, what we have here is an album that doesn’t shake any ground, yet the ground is solid. The country angle of this album, well, I must say it is pretty much a new country sound, with a mediocre influence of traditional.
The first track off the album titled “Forever Road” is a very smooth contemporary track that country radio I’m sure is just waiting to play…nothing special, no, but an enjoyable listen. Immediately after, the next track excites me. “All I Want” is a two-step shuffle song that shows that Rucker does indeed understand what traditional country music is. Sadly, that is the only opportunity we get to hear this style from Rucker because track three is his current hit single “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” which follows in the same thought process as the first track, with stronger emotion and vocal delivery. The other tracks are average, with the exception of “Drinkin’ and Dialin,” a fun little drinkin’ song.
As I listen to the rest of the album and Rucker’s strong and distinct vocals, I start to notice something very important here on this album; Song choice. Lyrically, for the most part, each and every song includes country songwriting of the highest level. 11 of the 12 tracks include co-writing credit to Rucker. Producer Frank Rogers (Brad Paisley) has 7 co-write credits. As does great writers such as Rivers Rutherford (Chuck Wicks, Jason Michael Carroll, Gary Alan, Gretchen Wilson,) Clay Mills (“Beautiful Mess” Diamond Rio,) and Ashley Gorley (Carrie Underwood, George Strait, “You’re Gonna Miss This” Trace Adkins.) Having talented songwriters and excellent song choice, overall, saved this album.
“Learn to Live” is a nice country debut album for Rucker. The blend of his distinctly familiar vocals, country lyrics, and a contemporary sound really works well, but leaves country music fans want even more contemporary traditional sounds like he offered us on “All I Want.”