Darius Rucker, "True Believers" (Capitol Nashville)
On his two previous Nashville, Tenn.-recorded solo albums, Darius Rucker proved he could gain acceptance from contemporary country music fans. On new album "True Believers," he proves he can do more than create formulaic radio hits: Finding a country voice and sound of his own, Rucker shows he can leave a distinctive mark on 21st-century country music.
With the funk-country rhythms of "Radio," "Shine" and "Lost in You," he combines the beach-music sound of his native South Carolina with the breezy, catchy side of current Nashville hits. With powerful originals like the roots-rocking "Heartbreak Road" and the raw emotions of "Miss You," Rucker makes great use of the expressive capabilities of his baritone voice -- which had been so important to the success of his rock band, Hootie & the Blowfish.
Rucker writes 10 of the 12 songs on "True Believers," yet adds momentum to the collection with two well-chosen songs by others. He faithfully covers Old Crow Medicine Show's Americana hit, "Wagon Wheel," and nicely handles a duet with Sheryl Crow on "Love Without You," written by Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally.
Altogether, "True Believers" suggests the 47-year-old has found a home on the country charts where he can settle down for a long spell.