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Album Review: “Learn To Live” by Darius Rucker

September 10, 2008

Learn To Live

4 Stars

Many may remember Darius as the lead singer to the 90’s pop/rock band Hootie and the Blowfish. He decided this year to take a break from his band and to take a shot at country music after many attempt to cross over including being featured on CMT and with several country acts the past few years. So naturally the big question is, did Darius put aside the pop sound of his band and put out a true blue country album, or did he pen his own sound to some country songs and put them off as his own brand of “country music”?

The answer to this comes in many different ways in this album, in some ways it’s yes and in some no, but in the end every track comes off as entertaining and memorable in its own right. In some ways Darius preserves the sound he has become popular for with HATB. The first track off the album, “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It“, has a country tone to it but allows fans of the genre who may not recognize him at first to recall his traditional vocal renditions. Also establishing this familiar sound are songs like “History In The Making” and the album’s opener “Forever Road” which show off a more romantic sense about Darius than his debut country single. These songs successfully match up Rucker’s “Hootie” sound with a more contemporary country feel, which surprisingly works out quite well when compared to more modern cross-genre attempts. It is a little disappointing that Darius fails to prevent his time with HATB from impacting this album, but at the same time it allows listeners to remember where he came from as an artist.

In many ways Darius incorporates just a contemporary country feel to his songs, and with a touch of sensitivity and emotion that really brings out the significance of this sound. While songs like “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” and “Alright” touch on very familiar concepts, they also shine above most of today’s pieces at radio by avoiding over-explaining the situation in the lyric or putting too much emphasis on the inspirational aspects in them. The title track, “Learn To Live“, is more upbeat, but also contains a contemporary feel as Darius explains the lesson he learned from his grandfather that has stuck with him through his entire life, you have to learn a few things along the way in order to live life just right.

Probably the most impressive thing about this album is that it’s not all contemporary country, but it is composed of quite a few neo-traditional tracks as well. For those unfamiliar with the term neo-traditional is modern country music as produced by such artists a Blake Shelton and Brad Paisley. In fact n many songs like “All I Want” and “Drinkin’ And Dialin’” you would swear Brad was playing guitar. Tracks like these sound true blue country and they work. Darius manages to sing like a country star and mix well with the music which makes it sound as if he’s been in this genre the whole time. Many pop/rock crossover artists have tried to produce sounds like this but very few have conquered the task like Darius has on his debut country effort.

The two most attractive tracks on this album are probably the most powerful pieces. Today’s country artists have tried to touch on the issues of the world and the concept of death and hope in such situation, many with great results and many more with less pleasing ones. Darius took his turn at trying to tackle the issues concerning the fear of death and the condition the world is in which could have turned out to be a huge risk considering just how much these topics are covered in the genre these days. To turn his attention towards worldwide issues Darius takes a religious approach on “If I Had Wings” and instead of complaining, he contemplates why things are as they are and wishes he could fly to the heavens and ask God the simple question “why”. On the subject of death and hope Darius puts himself in the person of a boy or man trapped in a car after an accident in “I Hope They Get To Me In Time” who is coming to grips with the possibility that he might die but still holding on to the hope that they might make it to him before its to late. Both songs show a tackle very touchy situations and once again Darius manages to grasp them with minimal flaws to his presentation.

So for Darius Rucker there was no fooling around. Coming into a country project he has proved he is not just a rocker looking for some extra attention, he is a true blue country fan who really wanted to make a work of art for country fans to enjoy. The result is  a very impressive collection that is sure to entertain whether you are a familiar fan of Darius from his pop days or a new fan of his from his crossover single. The only disappointment on this album is that Darius does not completely let go of his influence from the 90s, but even that seems to work to his advantage in the end.



6 Comments leave one →
  1. rock vegas permalink
    September 11, 2008 12:45 am

    How dare you not give 5 stars! This CD will put Darius on top of the country world. By the way, Paisley is playing guitar on All I want. You were right on it!

  2. Leeann Ward permalink
    September 11, 2008 2:36 am

    Okay, I’m pretty sure I’m not crazy, but I swear I hear Vince and Alison on “If I Had Wings”? I’m pleasantly surprised with how well Darius’ voice fits in this country format. I mean, I think I expected that it would, but I was underwhelmed by the first single. The album’s not perfect, but it’s certainly not a dud.

  3. December 19, 2008 4:02 pm

    You are correct it was Vince.

  4. Cody permalink
    May 28, 2009 9:09 am

    I love hootie and the blowfish, Darius rucker did good for his first atempt on country.
    It’s not bad by no means, I am not really a country fan, but i love this album. maybe i’m just bias, but I think this is truly great.
    “alright” sounds a bit like “let her cry” he didn’t give up his talented vocals wich greatly appreciate that, bvecvause it would be foreign to me. so he put some nastalgia to his songs 🙂

    keep it up Darius

  5. Cody permalink
    May 28, 2009 9:12 am

    he’s also coming to indianapolis Tuesday with rascal flatts.!!! Def. going to see him

  6. Francis permalink
    September 12, 2009 10:38 am

    Man get on with the country. This is your time to stay on the Top of the Chat.

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