Posts Tagged ‘Darius Rucker’
Friday, November 7th, 2008
At only twenty-three years old, Adam Gregory has been performing for ten years in his native Canada. After arriving in Nashville in 2007, he signed a recording contract with Midas Records, who then reformed last year under indie powerhouse Big Machine Records. Earlier this year, Gregory reached the Top 40 with his first single, “Crazy Days,” and last month he released his second single, “What It Takes.” His yet-untitled debut album in the United States is slated for release in Spring 2009. Gregory called Country Universe earlier this week to provide a glimpse into the life and career of the Nashville newcomer.
Who is Adam Gregory as an artist? And which artists have inspired this direction?
I consider myself as just a guy who sticks to his roots and follows his own path and tries to find meaning in every song. I’ve co-written a lot of songs on the album, so I hope to put my own imprint and give it that extra attention because it’s coming from me and who I am. We think it’s a refreshing sound. We have something new to offer. It’s not a country twang. It’s more of a modern-day sounding music. But I grew up listening to Vince Gill. He’s such a great singer, and so humble. And of course, Garth Brooks and George Strait. He (Strait) has maintained a personal life and family and still had a great career. That’s what I aspire to do.
Thursday, October 16th, 2008
Darius Rucker has an everyman’s voice that is tailor made for singalong choruses, which is one of the reasons those early Hootie singles were so infectious. It’s also one of the reasons his transition to country music has been so smooth. Unlike Jon Bon Jovi, who still sounds like a rocker, and Jewel, who still sounds like a coffeehouse folkie, Rucker’s vocals are more adaptable simply because they’re not as distinctive.
This isn’t a criticism of his singing. It’s a main selling point of it. “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” is as representative of contemporary country music as anything out there right now, and Rucker’s vocal on the track has as much to do with that as the song’s instrumentation. As he’s singing about savoring the moments of a young child’s development, he sounds just country enough to fit in on the radio dial between Alan Jackson and Keith Urban, without giving off the impression that he’s intentionally trying to fit in.
The end result is a pleasant single by a solid vocalist who has already picked up on the key lesson that many country singers never learn: don’t get in the way of the song. This allows the song itself to rise and fall on its own merits. As a sweeter spin on “You’re Gonna Miss This”, it has enough charm and attention to detail to make it a notch or two above the standard domestic mini-movie crowd of songs that have become their subgenre in modern country music.
Written by Chris DuBois, Ashley Gorey & Darius Rucker
Listen: It Won’t Be Like This For Long
Buy: It Won’t Be Like This For Long
Sunday, September 14th, 2008
Learn to Live
On his first country single, “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It,” Darius Rucker delivers an honest, heartfelt performance of a pensive ballad about love lost and the mark that it usually leaves. Rucker has attracted the attention of the country radio audience with that single, and it’s helped boost the profile of his first full country album, Learn to Live, a release that owns a variety of country music’s common topics and musical techniques. It’s that first single, though, where he sounds most natural and comfortable. The overall impression of the rest of the album; however, is how jolting it sounds for Rucker to reach into these twelve country songs and not stamp them with his own identity.
After an extended run as the lead singer of ‘90s pop-rock band Hootie & the Blowfish, Rucker has followed his muse, as influenced by his South Carolina upbringing and its strong helping of country radio. His connections within the industry have led to an all-star cast of talent on Learn to Live that lends a certain amount of creativity (and country credibility to boot). For example, on “All I Want,” a co-write with producer Frank Rogers, Rucker gives us one of the truly memorable hooks in recent memory, telling a soon-to-be-ex, “All I want you to leave me is alone.” It sounds like a song right out of the Brad Paisley catalog, no doubt a tribute to Paisley’s guitar playing on the track. But it highlights the one true problem with the album. Rucker appears to be trying a number of different styles, but never settles on one that is distinguishing. For such a tremendously arresting voice, he never establishes the sense of self that marks truly great country albums.
The other dilemma is that the songs never meet the standard of the rest of the album’s ingredients. Rogers does well to stay out of the way of Rucker’s performance, and Rucker in turn delivers with his coarse vocals. But he’s too reliant on radio-friendly, sentimental songs that never dig very deep at all. He manages to add a touch of poignancy to “It Won’t Be Like This for Long,” a ballad inspired by his two daughters, but the song never quite matches up with his skill set. The title track is similar in tone, and preaches the value in a life fully lived that eventually brings the narrator to a moment of clarity. And on “If I Had Wings,” Rucker is joined by the heart-rending harmonies of Alison Krauss and Vince Gill. These songs aren’t inherently bad (although they do toe the line of sentimentality), but they seem to provide the listener some dissonance when approaching Rucker as an artist. His ringing baritone deserves better (and less conventional) country songs. Songs brimming with heartache and loss are lacking, and at times the songs of love and devotion here fall flat. Instead he plays it safe with paint-by-number, maudlin ballads that never really tap into his talent.
Two songs about the concept of time miss for different reasons. “I Hope They Get To Me In Time” is distinctive in its storytelling, it’s just that the story is overly sentimental and just a little odd, as it tells of man’s life flashing before his eyes in the immediate aftermath of a car accident. And “While I Still Got the Time” (with a chorus almost completely lifted from the Kathy Mattea hit “Come from the Heart”) is ultimately cliché-ridden. Rucker’s reckless-weather voice is much better used on stronger material such as “Drinkin’ And Dialin”, a humorous ode to the late-night habit, or “Be Wary of a Woman,” a nod to the needs of freedom that are so quickly swept away in the face of life-changing love.
It’s that notable singing ability that was always going to carry this set above the mediocre, but Rucker’s earnest slant on this set of tunes is disconcerting when compared with his rich, resonant vocals. Learn to Live is well-produced and well-sung, but too many of the songs fail to fit the artist behind them.
Friday, August 22nd, 2008
The first country release from Darius Rucker, the former lead singer of popular ’90s pop-rock outfit Hootie & the Blowfish, recently reached the Top Ten on the Billboard singles chart. It’s the lead single of his forthcoming album Learn to Live and its popularity sends a clear message that country fans appear to be embracing Rucker in his attempt at a solo career.
And with good reason. “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” is led by the powerful pipes of Rucker and provides a very mature, adult response to regret and remorse than is often found in country music. Yes, he has made a number of mistakes due to foolish pride, but he is aware enough to realize that those choices cannot be undone. It’s a responsible approach to heartache, and helps the listener to better sympathize with his inner struggle.
The production may not be remarkable, and the lyric is not groundbreaking, but it’s a real, honest, down-to-earth story with a roots-deep vocal performance.
Listen: Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It
Buy: Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It