Album Review: Darius Rucker - True Believers
By: Matt Bjorke
With "Wagon Wheel" becoming the fastest-selling, fastest-rising and biggest hit of his career to date, the timing was definitely right for Darius Rucker to release his third Country Music album True Believers in May of 2013. Released via UMG Nashville's Capitol Nashville label, True Believers is loaded with twelve (12) tracks, ten of which were co-written by Darius himself ("Wagon Wheel" and "Love Without You" are the two songs he didn't write). Lady Antebellum, Sheryl Crow and Mallary Hope guest on the album as well.
The title track was the Top 15 lead single and while it was an underwhelming single, Darius and Capitol smartly released "Wagon Wheel," shining a bright light on the Bob Dylan and Ketch Secor-penned party song that has been a staple in the south since Secor's Old Crow Medicine Show originally recorded it in 2004. While many love the original band's version, Darius' mainstream Country Music version doesn't sound all that much different. It is a great song and one I've long thought deserved mainstream Country Music success and now it has as the single hit #1 the very week True Believers was released.
Throughout the rest of True Believers, a majority of the songs are concerned with love and relationships, as most albums are. Blessed with one of the most emotive voices in all of music, Darius keeps the album a mostly uptempo affair with songs like "Heartbreak Road" and "Radio" joining "Wagon Wheel" as one of the clear highlights of the album, with a catchy melody and a slice-of-life lyric about the careless and carefree memories from your teenage years and good times with friends, a car and the radio. "Heartbreak Road" - written with Dallas Davidson and Rhett Akins - is about infatuation
"Miss You" leads the emotionally-packed ballads on the album with "Love Without You," "I Will Love You Still" and the classic-sounding "Lost In You." the first three songs are emotionally heartbreaking with "Miss You" chronicling what feels like a loveless marriage (at least on one side) while "Love Without You" builds to an emotional climax (after a beautifully mixed piano and steel guitar instrumental break) which Darius Rucker and Sheryl Crow swap lyrics about people who can do everything in love but love. "I Will Love You Still" has an atmospheric mid-tempo melody backing a lyric with raw and real emotions that come up when a relationship comes around. The powerful Mallary Hope provides vocal support on this track, giving it emotional balance. "Lost In You" feels like a throwback to the feel-good, 80s ballads and is a sonic cousin to James Otto's Country Soul "Just Got Started Lovin' You."
Everything about True Believers feels solid and ready for the spotlight or setlist. But while saying this, it's not to say that Darius Rucker is chasing trends at radio like so many other artists seem to be doing. Instead he's delivering an album that suits him and his voice the best and on songs like the Honky Tonk Soul ballad "Take Me Home," Darius Rucker is able to wrap so much soul and emotion into few lines. Here's hoping the songs on True Believersbecomes a massive Country Radio success for the Grand Ole Opry star because Country Music is all for the better when Darius Rucker and his emotive voice are part of it because True Believers feels like the best album of Darius Rucker's career.