With Hootie & the Blowfish singer Darius Rucker releasing his first country album on Capitol Records this week, I got to thinking about the other things he’s done in the band’s career so far. Not that country music is that far removed from Hootie’s sound–there were rumours for years that they were going to make a country album, and 2005’s Looking For Lucky, recorded mostly in Nashville, was pretty close to one. The band has also had a tendency to associate with country artists, from covering Radney Foster songs for single B-sides to Rucker singing on Nanci Griffith albums.
“Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” has actually become a pretty big country hit over the last month or so, surprising many who might have scoffed at the idea of the Hootie singer as a country star. Rucker has always admitted to a strong liking for classic country, however, and his voice is well suited to the genre. The rest of the album is as catchy as the single, so there may be a few more hits to come from it.
This isn’t Rucker’s first solo album, however–He recorded a retro-soul disc for Hidden Beach, the same label that gave us soul chanteuse Jill Scott, though few heard it–sales were dismal. Here’s the video for the album’s single “Wild One,” which is actually a pretty decent soul jam with an Al Green feel to it:
It’s a pretty far stretch from that to this, the official video for the new country single:
But as some have suggested, perhaps this memorable moment primed the country music pump:
Rucker has defended his new stab at a country music career with the observation that many of the songs he wrote for Hootie were country songs that the band had to turn into rock songs. In recent interviews he has stated that he’ll be playing Hootie songs on his country music tour, and I’d say that this will be one of the songs he’ll play every night–it was even covered a while back by a country artist, Charlie Daniels. Notice as well that this clip is lifted from CMT’s program Rock & Country:
Of course, if country doesn’t work out, there’s always a chance he could put out a reggae album, right?
The end result of all this genre-hopping is that Rucker has proven to be a resilient artist who can sing the hell out of just about anything. He hasn’t recorded anything like it yet, but Rucker has played several yearly benefits singing Sinatra-style standards with a big band, even. Can a swing jazz, big band orchestra album be far behind?