Sunday, October 31, 2010

Album Review: Darius Rucker - Charleston, SC 1966

Please let us observe a moment of silence in recognition of all the gifted voices that have been wasted on substandard material.

It looks like we'll have to keep on waiting to hear all those two-steps and shuffles that Darius Rucker intended to include on his debut country album, but scrapped in favor of saccharine radio filler that was better suited for nonstop airplay.  He dumbed down his music, and radio pounced on it, so why would he alter the formula for his second album?

Opening track "This" revisits the "Bless the Broken Road"/ "Here" formula that Rascal Flatts found success with, and turns it into Lonestar-esque declaration of domestic bliss.  It is every bit as interesting as its simple one-word title would lead one to expect. (Next up is lead single "Come Back Song," which is worth skipping altogether) Charleston revisits the "sippy-cup country" subgenre time and time again.  He gets a little saucy on "Might Get Lucky," which is about a married couple trying to steal time away from their brood so they can... you know, "do it."  It may speak to a few parents, but non-parents will have a hard time appreciating it.

The album's best moments are often the darker ones.  "Whiskey and You" ranks as one of the most striking tracks on the album, in which a brokenhearted narrator constantly returns to two sources of comfort, both of which ultimately prove detrimental.  "I Got Nothin'" and "Things I'd Never Do" add another good dose of heartbreak to what is largely a musical playdate.

While this album features strong vocals from start to finish, the lyrics remain average and unremarkable, with "She's Beautiful" being one of the most depressingly forgettable songs on the album.  If you've heard Darius's first country album Learn to Live, you've heard this one as well.  His latest effort will neither surprise nor disappoint his current fans, nor will it win him any new ones.  In his quest to fit in with what is deemed acceptable to country radio, Darius has successfully created another album that is completely and totally middle-of-the-road.  It's not especially good, nor is it outstandingly bad.  But it sure is disheartening to see such a talented artist playing it so safe.  Can't we aim just a little bit higher than this, and create something that actually leaves a dent in one's memory when it's through playing?

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)