It's a nifty trick to sell more than 20 million records over the course of 20 years, and follow it all with a CMA for New Artist of the Year. But Darius Rucker's career has defied convention more than once. There was a time in the '90s that Rucker's rich baritone, fronting Hootie and the Blowfish, was inescapable on mainstream radio. And with 2008's "Learn to Live", his country debut, he caught lightning in a bottle again: a number 1 record and 4 hit singles.
The sophomore album, with a title lifted from Rucker's own birth certificate, has much in common with the midtempo melodies perfected on the first. Once again, acoustic instruments energetically pick away underneath a pumped-up rhythm section. But where "Learn to Live" frequently pondered the promise of the future or the wisdom of the passing of time, "Charleston" revels in the present. With upbeat numbers like This, Might Get Lucky and In A Big Way, Rucker might be the most happily married man in America. The only time he's upset with his lady is when they fight or separate, and he's always wrong (Come Back Song, Things I'd Never Do, I Got Nothin'). There's little doubt this record will seriously ingratiate him to his female fans.
Rucker's voice is a treasure, and catchy tunes abound here. It's striking how the straightforwardness of the country genre helps Rucker avoid the vocal mumbling that he fell into with his rock career. But more melodic and subject matter diversions (such as the party anthem I Don't Care with Brad Paisley, or the poignant We All Fall Down) are needed - it's time to leave the front porch and see the world again.