Darius Rucker has always been an interesting case in country music. The former lead singer of 90s staple Hootie & The Blowfish has certainly made an impact as a country artist and seems to be well-known amongst the casual listeners, yet it always feels like he’s under-the-radar. This is probably due to the fact he hasn’t been a trend chaser (outside of the unfortunately bad “Homegrown Honey”), but he hasn’t ever really wowed me with his music. It’s always seems to somewhere between average and decent, especially when it comes to his single selections. His big hit of course was his cover of Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel,” the song most synonymous with his country career. Since then he hasn’t had a single come close to its success. I reviewed his latest album Southern Style last year and much like his singles was an average affair brought down by corny, vanilla lyrics. However the production wasn’t too bad. Rucker now returns with the lead single from his upcoming fifth album and it’s titled “If I Told You.”
So does Rucker step up in the lyrics department? Well yes. It’s not a huge improvement, but an improvement nonetheless. “If I Told You” begins with Rucker doing a spoken word style. Now normally when a country artist does spoken word, I get highly annoyed because it’s done in a terrible, pseudo-rap manner and the lyrics are garbage (looking at you, Jake Owen). But Rucker pulls off spoken word well, not to mention the lyrics aren’t bad. The song itself is about a man who admits he is flawed and he has his own issues that have not only hurt him, but those around him. He admits all of these mistakes to the love of his life and hopes will she still accept and love him despite his admitted flaws. He even tells her that his “dreams are a million miles away” and he wants her to come with him, something he knows her family wouldn’t want. Yet he still pleads for her to follow him because he loves her that much. This is all set to a light production that has a country sound, but also a bit of a polished, Adult Contemporary feel too.
While “If I Told You” isn’t going to set the world on fire, it’s a decent song that shows Rucker taking a step in the right direction and hopefully is improved upon even more on the album. I think this song could have a real chance at radio if Capitol Records Nashville stays behind it and remain patient. It’s the type of love ballad that radio has been open to playing recently and this song really suits Rucker well. One good sign is it was the most added song at country radio on Mediabase last week. I think Rucker is capable of producing great music and while this isn’t it, this is music with some substance and something that would help improve the quality of mainstream country.
Writers: Ross Copperman, Jon Nite and Shane McAnally