Southern Style Album Review
Written by David England
The former Hootie front man is back with another slice of Southern life. With his oozing laid back Charleston charm & easily identifiable voice the follow up to True Believers is finally here. Co-writing everything on the album, you get the impression that he cares about every song, they’re all his babies!
Playing in London last year we got to hear “Homegrown Honey” the first single from the album. Co-written by Charles Kelly of Lady Antebellum fame, it’s a typical Rucker number. Fun, boisterous and just a little bit silly, “Gone For A Good Time” is a get down, partying honky-tonk tune. Played towards the end of a night, you can imagine this becoming a great.
After the gorgeous “I Will Love You Still” on True Believers, Mallary Hope pops up again o“Baby I’m Alright, a lush, mandolin-led effortless summer song.
“Southern Style” which gives the album its name is a great little number on southern girls. The line “She’s a Friday night life lover, a Billy Graham fan like her mother” is beautifully written and sung by Rucker. Harmony vocals are supplied by Rich Robinson of The Black Crowes fame which gives the song a real depth. There is an almost 70’s Eagles feel to the song and it’s very close to being the strongest track.
There is a real summer time sing-a-long “Southern Style” to the middle section of the album. Whether that’s on a more upbeat tempo, “You Me and My Guitar” & “Lighter Up” or on a more on the slower side “Low Country” and “Need You More”, you can bet that Rucker has a lyric to match the mood. One thing Rucker does seem to get away in his writing is bringing up the stock phrases, be it dirt roads or dixie cups, without them appearing forced. He understands context.
“You Can Have Charleston” is a great break-up song. Evocative imagery of ships and streets, Rucker really brings home the pain of losing a wife or a lover to another man and the despair felt as he has to leave his hometown. A curious song in that it’s fundamentally a sad subject but by the last verse you start to feel a weight lifting off him.
Ending with “So I Sang” a brilliant, deeply moving autobiographical number. From his formative years through to his first song, first kiss and finally to the death of his mother, it’s a personal eulogy to the testament of her belief in him. Like “Charleston” before it, it’s a painful memory but there is a sense of happiness that he is able to show the potential in himself that his mother always knew he had.
With a perfect use of fiddle, mandolin, steel & banjo mixed with Rucker’s song-writing ability means he definitely has another hit on his hands. It’s not a massive departure from “True Believers” but that’s not a bad thing. I for one am looking forward to the Southern Style tour hitting the UK sometime soon, he loves playing here and we love having him here.