Hootie & the Blowfish's fifth studio effort is the first to feature extensive co-songwriting credits, as well as a few well-placed guest musicians. Recording Looking for Lucky in Nashville after wrapping up the tour for their 2004 Best Of set, Hootie & the Blowfish were joined by Fairweather Johnson producer Don Gehman as well as engineer Nick Brophy, who contributed some programming and "great noises" to the songs. That doesn't mean Darius Rucker is suddenly singing through a vocoder, or Jim Sonefeld has been replaced by the tinfoil prattle of electronic percussion. No way. Hootie & the Blowfish sound as natural as ever on Looking for Lucky, their ear for melody intact through a slick 12-song set of rootsy pop with insightful nods to country, blues, and gospel. Brophy's work is clear on "Hey Sister Pretty," where a guitar effect broods behind the main vocal and the song is mixed like a single from Train or Better Than Ezra. Rucker still sings in that rousing baritone, and the harmonies and acoustic strum tag it as Hootie. But the band's sound benefits from the slight makeover -- nothing fancy, just a slight tweak toward modernization. Elsewhere on Lucky, additional songwriting from folks like Matraca Berg and the Silos' Walter Salas-Humara brings more depth to the lyrics and arrangements. So "Smile" gives Rucker a chance to sing in a slightly higher register, while "Leaving" is a gently mischievous hybrid of progressive bluegrass and pop with New Grass Revival members Sam Bush and John Cowan guesting on mandolin, fiddle, and vocals. Other Looking for Lucky highlights include John Hobbs' organ on "Get Out of My Mind" adding punch to its already bustling chorus -- "Mind" also finds Rucker drinking alone again -- and the evocative "Killing Stone," the collaboration with Berg, which would fit nicely on a contemporary country album.
AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus