"We’re going more into the countrier side of music than trying to go the other way.”

By Annie Reuter

Darius Rucker‘s fourth country album, Southern Style, stands as a wonderful showcase of his country roots. Rucker calls it his “countriest album” to date, saying he made a conscious effort this time around to aim in that direction.

Rucker says records by artists like Lyle Lovett, Nanci Griffith, Foster & Lloyd, Radney Foster, New Grass Revival and Dwight Yoakam had him “enamored with country music” and made him want to be a part of it. He says that Southern Style is him getting closer to those records that made him first fall in love with country music and those that he would listen to 10 to 15 times in a row.

Related: Darius Rucker Celebrates ‘Homegrown Honey’ No. 1, Talks Little Big Town’s ‘Girl Crush’

“They made me want to come out and sing country music,” he reflects. “Now, I think we’re getting closer and closer to those records. I mean, I love my first three records. I think they’re great. For this record, we made a more conscious effort to make a more country record.”

Songs like banjo and string heavy second track on the album, the honky tonk-fused “Good For a Good Time,” showcase this classic country sound.

“I loved every minute of cutting that song,” Rucker says with a big smile. “That was the direction we were going in. Not so much all honky tonks, but instead of going poppy or more rock with records, we were trying to go the other way. It’s just a big ol’ party song. I think that’s where we’re going. We’re going more into the countrier side of music than trying to go the other way.”

Rucker says the success of his 2013 hit “Wagon Wheel” had some influence on the makings of the fun and countrified album Southern Style, which includes No. 1 single “Homegrown Honey.” While he didn’t sit down and consciously decide to do a song like “Wagon Wheel” again, he said it did open his eyes to the fact that he could do a “real country song” and have a hit with it.

“‘Wagon Wheel’ was the most country thing on country radio that year. It definitely opened our eyes to the fact that I can go make those country records and maybe have a hit or two and make another one,” he admits. “It definitely influenced this record.”

The album title track, and likely next single “Southern Style,” Rucker wrote with Rivers Rutherford and Tim James with the intention to write about country music fans everywhere living a laid-back lifestyle. The type of people who work hard, but party harder.

“That song has so many great images. Sun kissed hair to Billy Graham fan like her mother. When we finished it, I thought, ‘That’s one of the best songs that I had ever been a part of writing.'”

Other highlights include the tongue-in-cheek “Baby I’m Right,” a duet with Mallary Hope, the imagery filled ballad “Need You More” and album closer “So I Sang,” which Rucker calls the most honest song on the album.

“Tim James’ father died and he wrote this cool little song and then we totally rewrote it for me,” Rucker says of “So I Sang.” “It turned out to be so personal. When I listen back, I experienced this whole song. When we finished it, it moved me. You end the record just as real as you could be.”

I knew from an early age I wasn’t going to be
A doctor or the CEO of anything
So I sang, “She Believes In Me”
And I played, “Fire On The Mountain”
‘Til I made my fingers bleed

Darius Rucker’s Southern Style is out now.

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