Darius Rucker made the successful transition from rootsy AAA singer to contemporary country with his 2008 album Learn to Live, and if Hootie history has taught us anything, it’s that Rucker is reluctant to abandon something that’s working, so his 2010 sequel, Charleston, SC 1966 doesn’t stray from its predecessor's blueprint. Rucker does wind up grafting a soaring Hootie-styled chorus onto some of these songs, comfortable that he’s made his comeback so, well, comfortable; in fact, he writes a song alluding to it, naturally calling it “Come Back Song,” so he can occasionally remind listeners of his roots. But Rucker doesn’t spend time gazing into the rear-view mirror on Charleston, SC 1966, despite it being named after the place and date of his birth. The songs here are the tales of a man secure in his middle age, fervently hoping that he “Might Get Lucky” in the “window of opportunity between when the kids are tucked in and a half a glass of chardonnay”, and contemplating all the “Things I’d Never Do” that he eventually did. These tunes, cute as they may sometimes be, all resonate strongly, especially when compared to his pandering Southern strategy of “Whiskey and You” and “Southern State of Mind,” where he underscores his connection to the common man a bit too strongly, cramming two references to sweet tea within 12 lines, creating a dissonance that no amount of Auto-Tune can correct. Not that Rucker didn’t try: every song on Charleston has been ironed flat, so there are no unseemly natural inflections, something that Rucker doesn’t need but which helps make Charleston, SC 1966 a gleaming example of polished, pressed, modern country-pop.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine