There are very few things Darius Rucker can say he hasn’t achieved as a solo artist. On this, his third country album, the Hootie & The Blowfish has firmly established himself as one of the better contemporary country artists. True Believers is both terrifically entrenched in country’s roots while showing off Rucker’s grasp of the popular music landscape.
Frank Rogers returns to produce and once again the album is sonically crisp. His new singles to date, the all encompassing “True Believers” and the Old Crow Medicine Show cover “Wagon Wheel”, are both the most accessible tracks of the album. But when he gets a little more intimate on songs like “Miss You” and the Sheryl Crow featuring “Love Without You”, True Believers really does shine. The latter is country balladeering with certain grace, coated with Sheryl Crow’s gentle vocal touch. There’s a little gospel in “Take Me Home” and “Leavin’ The Light On” brings home the more traditional twang of the record.
Rucker’s love for country music and of course, his homeland, is very much why his country albums sound genuine. There’s a certain honesty and feel-good-ness to his songs that while they at times may feel a little mawkish, are very much sincere and heartfelt.
True Believers doesn’t quite hit as high of notes as its processor Charleston, SC 1966 did, but what it does do is continue an already impressive legacy. It’s hard not to smile and feel a little bit of down-to-earth sentimentality when he rolls through the album’s closer “Lie To Me”, a break up love song that is both a little tongue-in-cheek and a little bit hard truth. And that’s the best part of Rucker’s music, honesty and his ability to weave it through good songs, both traditional and contemporary.
There are many serious subjects that country musicians have sung, much about the world being a difficult place. Rucker may not always delve into the most complex of material, but you don’t always have to in order to know what’s going on in both the heart and the head. After all, I believe the phrase is, “all you need is three chords and the truth”.