Darius Rucker

Learn to Live – 2008 (Capitol Nashville)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Darius Rucker

Darius Rucker is making the plunge into country after years spent leading Hootie & the Blowfish. Unlike some others who enter the country field late in their music life, Rucker attempts at times to keep a country sound. That is particularly true on "All I Want," although the tonker would have been best handled by someone like Dwight Yoakam since Rucker comes off as more of a dabbler than a dyed in the wool traditionalist.

Rucker's voice is his strong suit. He always has had a very full sounding, soulful bent to his vocals, which serve him well here, although it's a bit smooth.

As for the lyrics, well that's a different story. The lyrics on the lead-off "Forever Road" are sickeningly sweet. "If I Had Wings" isn't much better with strings causing overkill. Life actually must be great for Rucker because he sure is incredibly upbeat. "I've got everything I need," he sings in "Alright."

Another problem is that after awhile, a musical sameness sets in where the playing is even keeled, and there isn't enough variety. Rucker may be learning how to live the country life, and he says he intends to make at least several country albums to avoid the poseur tag. At times, he succeeds, but he still has a ways to go. "You got to take some chances" Rucker sings in the title track. Merely releasing a country disc may quality to Rucker's thinking, but ultimately he does not live up the words and plays it safe.