Learn To Live

Learn To Live

As the voice of Hootie & the Blowfish, Darius Rucker projected an appealing combination of strength and humility. His rich, resonant tone and Carolinian accent gave character to the band’s material and these same qualities are heard on Learn to Live, Rucker’s debut as a country artist. Darius doesn’t strain to reinvent himself as a honky-tonk cowboy or a Nashville rebel here. For the most part these are likeably down-to-earth tunes that make this ex-rock star seem like the guy next door. “Forever Road,” “History in the Making,” and “It Won’t Be Like This for Long” ride easy grooves as Rucker applies his trademark vibrato to family-friendly lyrics. He sings routine fare like the title track and “Alright” with enough warmth to make them (and him) sound believable. Rucker puts some resentful edge into the cheeky breakup song “All I Want” and gets a little risqué on the comical “Drinkin’ and Dailin’.” More typical is “Be Wary of a Woman,” a playful number despite its ominous title. Learn to Live favors a smooth, largely twang-free production approach. For his part, Rucker sounds thoroughly comfortable, happy to leave Hootie behind.

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