Learn To Live

Darius Rucker

Capitol Nashville, 2008


REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


It was not possible in the mid-‘90s to turn on a radio without being inundated by at least one massive hit from Hootie And The Blowfish’s Cracked Rear View. The record went on to sell 16 million copies, a staggering feat considering just how little the public knew about the Blowfish. Unquestionably, the glue that held Cracked Rear View together was Darius Rucker (a man who has to live being called Hootie for the rest of his life). Rucker was the straw that stirred the drink, providing the voice and a face for the group.

As is often the case in the music business, Hootie went the way of the dinosaur, and Rucker was presented with a crossroads. After recording an R&B solo album in 2002 that failed to make a dent in the charts, Rucker made few appearances save for the occasional Burger King ad. It was not until 2008 with Learn To Live that the man returned to prominence, albeit in a completely different genre.

In many ways, country music is the perfect vehicle for Rucker. Personalities dominate country music: your Alan Jacksons, Kenny Chesneys, LeAnn Rimes sell more on the name than the expectation of daring and bold new music. With a golden voice such as the one Rucker is blessed with, achieving success within the world of country is not as surprising as one would think.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Make no mistake, Learn To Live demonstrates that Rucker has wholeheartedly thrown his hat into the ring of country music superstars. An African-American reaching the top of the country singles chart for the first time since 1983 is a big deal, and indicates openness where many would expect otherwise.

It’s hard to resist the charm of Learn To Live; regardless of what one’s thoughts about country, there are are a handful of tracks present that just flat out work. The title cut adapts some of that old Hootie magic into an anthemic statement on overcoming difficulties and learning from mistakes. “History In The Making” follows along similar lines and is emblazoned in a pop sheen that tones down the otherwise strong country trends present in the rest of the album. Rucker sounds incredibly happy to have found his niche, even while tackling “weighty” material.

That being said, Rucker falls into the same trap as countless other artists in his line of work have done. That word would be “pander.” The bigger hits from the album, such as “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” and “It Won’t Be Like This For Long,” are taken straight from Country Music 101. These are the same songs that have been playing on CMT for years and years. A song about the woman who broke your heart, the song about peering into the future to see how your daughter grows up, the song with religious undertones questioning hate and war, etc.; these are nothing new to country music. The same tired ideas repeated over a strong melody again and again and again – one can’t blame the musicians because they understand the audience better than anyone. It merely holds back country music in its current form.

My intellectual complains aside, Learn To Live is about as good as country music can get. Rucker has the personality and the talent to entertain, and his overall demeanor meshes perfectly with what is expected. Don’t go into this record expecting to hear something radical or have your mind blown. It is what it is, take it or leave it.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2009 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol Nashville, and is used for informational purposes only.