Black Music Matters Festival

Darius Rucker

When Was the Last Time – 2017 (Capitol Nashville)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Darius Rucker

Darius Rucker is so darn likeable, he likely gets away with creating subpar music more than most. However, "When Was the Last Time" is a consistently good album, which is as respectable as it is likeable.

Rucker knows how to sing crowd pleasers, like the fun and funny "Count the Beers" and the all-star collaboration "Straight to Hell," which also features Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Charles Kelley. He shines brightest, though, on the more serious songs. "If I Told You," for instance, finds Rucker appearing especially vulnerable. Then, Rucker takes on the role of the advisor with the folk-ish "Twenty Something," which is something Tim McGraw does so well. One must wonder if McGraw might also have been offered this song. "For the First Time," appears to be aimed at a woman that is either overly uptight or has somehow forgotten the joys of spontaneity. "When was the last time you did something for the first time?," Rucker asks, like a lighthearted tempter.

While there are few missteps, there is one particularly annoying song within this group. "Your Hands on Me" steals lyrically from Florida Georgia Line's "H.O.L.Y." by using Christian lingo to create a seduction song. The track also borrows a little too liberally from the melody to "People Get Ready." Elsewhere, "She" relies overly heavily on Southern lifestyle clichés.

Even when Rucker lacks a little creative ambition on this album, he's still nearly impossible to dislike. And along with all the easygoing country sounds, Rucker makes a few serious points -- without ever turning his forum into a soapbox. And it's difficult to remember the last time such was done this well.