Darius Rucker’s second career as a country singer is showing no sign of slowing down with his new album, Southern Style. Formerly the lead singer of rock band Hootie & the Blowfish, Darius has already achieved three Number 1 country albums, spawning six No.1 hit singles, including the Grammy-winning “Wagon Wheel,” one of the most popular country hits of recent years. Southern Style continues to feature pop-influenced country heavy on catchy choruses, but interestingly, the former rocker comes off as more country than some of his male country peers. The mandolin-driven “High On Life” and the slide guitar-fuelled “Low Country” are more relaxed than anything by Jason Aldean or Eric Church. The breezy feel fits Rucker’s comfortable voice, Alan Jackson’s producer, Keith Stegall, collaborates on five songs, bringing out his personable Southern drawl on “Baby I’m Right,” a striking duet with the under-appreciated Mallary Hope. Meanwhile, Darius’ long-time producer, Frank Rogers, adds new sonic treatments to “Homegrown Honey” and the title song, both of which celebrate Southern women. “Lighter Up” nicely captures contemporary country’s trends, mixing a banjo with an insistent rock beat. This is another sure fire No.1 album, and possibly, Rucker’s best to date!
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