Darius Rucker

Southern Style

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Southern Style isn't the first time Darius Rucker has had to follow a massive success. Twenty years earlier, he had to find a way forward from Hootie & the Blowfish's smash debut Cracked Rear View and in 2015, he's tasked with finding a sequel to "Wagon Wheel," the 2013 megahit that defined his solo career. Old pro that he now is, Rucker decides to play it cool on Southern Style, never quite gunning for an outright replica of the shambling, singalong charm of "Wagon Wheel" but not running from it, either. In most respects, Southern Style follows the same template as 2013's True Believers, which was similar to 2010's Charleston, SC 1966 which, in turn, was similar to his 2008 country debut, Learn to Live. Rucker has found a way to ease his amiable roots rock onto the country charts without ever copping to contemporary country trends. "Good for a Good Time" comes close enough to a Texas dancehall number to suggest Rucker could get a little harder if he chooses, but he'd rather lay back with his acoustic guitar, singing songs that feel vaguely familiar and always rather pleasant. He'll sing about a "Half Full Dixie Cup" in a fashion that recalls a tamed Toby Keith but there's never a sense he'll actually get drunk, and apart from "Homegrown Honey" -- a crass abomination where he betrays his '90s roots by telling his object of affection "you're so money," a phrase straight out of Swingers -- he doesn't think it's worth his while to chase the bros up the chart. Rucker's happy to play the satisfied middle-aged dad -- he sings "heaven knows that I'm usually wrong/and you're the first one to point it out" on "Baby I'm Right," just like any henpecked husband -- and that's his appeal: it's music to put on when things are getting just a little bit too hectic but you'd never dream of running away from your problems. Music for a suburban weekend, in other words.

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