August 29, 2012
Darius Rucker – the former Blowfish with the strong distinctive voice, and now a streak of six Top 3 country hits thanks to a reliable strategy of playing it safe. The #17-peaking “I Got Nothin’” may have interrupted Rucker’s hot streak for now, but his new release “True Believers” should be just mediocre enough to get him back into the automatic add club.
Lyrically, “True Believers” scans and typical radio fodder in the tradition of “Alright” and “This.” Still, one encouraging sign is that Rucker sings with a greater degree of conviction than in past efforts, as even some of Rucker’s better material has often been weighed down by sleepy performances. He also has a more compelling melody to work with this time around. If a crisp, unobtrusive arrangement were to bring up the rear, then that could potentially have allowed the melody and performance to transcend the disposable lyrics.
Only no such luck. Rucker’s voice is marred by the usual spit-shine wall-of-sound Nashville production, thoroughly blocking the connection with the listener, and hindering what otherwise might have been a qualified success. Thus, “True Believers” fails to connect beyond surface level.
If there’s a compelling country artist lurking beneath all that mainstream polish, we have yet to see it rise to the surface. Here’s hoping that this isn’t the best his upcoming third Nashville album has to offer.
Listen: True Believers