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Album review: Darius Rucker's 'Charleston, SC 1966'

October 12, 2010 |  1:06 pm

Darius Bruce Springsteen once wrote “From small things, mama, big things one day come,” a thought that might serve Rucker well as he delves further into the second phase of his career as a country-leaning singer and songwriter.

On his sophomore album since leaving behind his role fronting Hootie & the Blowfish, it’s the songs with a microcosmic view that feel far fresher than those that directly take on life’s Big Issues. But he’s not likely to abandon that formula given the way country radio programmers and listeners latched on to his similarly minded 2008 country debut, “Learn to Live.”

“This,” the album’s opening track, paints a happy portrait of a contented home life. It’s fully in keeping with the general shift in country music from a platform for honest examination of the painful aspects of life to a cheery forum celebrating how great everything is all the time. “Southern State of Mind” and “In a Big Way” cater — pander? — to his new following by laying out his credentials as dyed-in-the-wool son of the South, while “She’s Beautiful” compares his objet d’amour to a prairie wind, a wheat field and a baby’s cry. Then “We All Fall Down” delivers another stop-and-smell-the-roses advisory to any workaholics who happen to be listening.

It’s all familiar stuff — too familiar — to warrant sustained attention. It’s only when he gets playful on “I Don’t Care,” a duet with Brad Paisley, that things liven up a bit. He tries to go deep in “Whiskey and You” and “I Got Nothin’,” earnest but predictable attempts to look at what happens when life isn’t quite so peachy. The music’s better when he just don’t care.

--Randy Lewis

Darius Rucker
“Charleston, SC 1966”
Two stars