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Darius Rucker

True Believers – 2013 (EMI Nashville)

Reviewed by Michael Verity

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CDs by Darius Rucker

Darius Rucker remains a great singer. He still has that smiling South Carolina party boy delivery that made him Hootie The Hitmaker. His guitarist, J.T. Corenflos, knows how to knock out a solo or two and his producer, Frank Rogers, does admirable work surrounding D-Ruck's voice with just the right amount of compression.

So why is this the front runner for Most Boring Country Album of 2013? Well, for starters, the songs suck. The lyrics are so insipid they make the dialogue from a Hannah Montana movie sound like Tennessee Williams. "You're the rock I built my world around and life won't ever break it," he sings on the title cut. On Heartbreak Road, he says "You've got the keys girl, I'm just a rider, gas it up and let's get out of here," which sounds like Shakespeare compared to Lost In You's words of wisdom: "Spring break, tan skin, Lord I can't remember when..." Ugh. Really, D-Dog? Is this blech the best you can muster?

To add musical insult to lyrical injury, every cut is plucked clean from the latest volume of How To Be A Hit (Commercial Country) Songwriter. Hand-waving pop ballad, with obligatory "this'll make it sound like country" banjo riff? Check. Thoughtful ballad with obligatory mandolin and appearance from guest pop star? Check. Funky "me and my girl out on the road" song? Check. The only song worth listening to twice is Wagon Wheel and that's 'cuz it was written by Bob Dylan and actually swings (though Old Crow Medicine Show's version is a lot better.)

If it weren't for the fact that Rucker's voice is so distinguishable, this album wouldn't be distinguishable at all. It'd be just another set of pop songs that Nashville pretends to make country adding a "y'all" here and a "yep" there, in between the required slide guitar riff.

Short story: "True Believers" is a record made by a personable singer from whom they've drained all the personality. File under "Maroon 5 with a mandolin."