Darius Rucker peforms with songwriter Frank Rogers. (Photo: Chris Hollo)
Darius Rucker previewed his third Capitol Records Nashville album, True Believers, today (Oct. 30) for an industry crowd at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. Produced by Frank Rogers, the album is set for release Jan. 22.
Following lunch in the Hall of Fame's atrium, Universal Music Group Nashville Chairman & CEO Mike Dungan welcomed attendees in the Ford Theater, acknowledging it was the first event for the new Universal Music Group Nashville in the wake of the merger with EMI.
"Darius' first two records went right to No. 1 on the country charts and collectively they spawned five No. 1 singles," Dungan said. "He really took his time on making this one and worked with a lot of new people, a lot of new relationships."
In welcoming Rucker to the stage, Dungan commented that the Charleston, SC native was "on a high because his [Carolina] Gamecocks won and those hapless Miami Dolphins beat the worst football team I've ever seen in my life. He's a really happy guy. He's also the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry."
Rucker performed the new album in its entirety backed by his band the Carolina Grey Boys. He co-wrote 10 of the album's 12 tracks and welcomed his co-writers to the stage to perform with him. "The day I started this country thing I learned and realized that the heart and soul of this Nashville thing is the songwriter. Before I started writing country music, I wrote all my songs by myself. That's how we did it in Hootie. We wrote it and brought it to the band," he said of his work with Hootie & the Blowfish.
"The first writing session was beautiful and awesome and they've all been great since," he says of his country collaborations.
First up, Rhett Akins and Dallas Davidson joked about how they were trying to get an idea for a song before they met Rucker to co-write at his home in Charleston. "We were driving and we could see his house and I said 'Dallas, we really need a song idea before we get to this house. We have two minutes,'" Akins recalled as the audience laughed. "I said, 'Look for signs. Look for anything. We'll name it 'Lowes, Home Depot, anything'. . . He said 'What do you think about 'Heartbreak Road' and I said 'Yes! That's what we're writing!'"
Next up, Rucker invited David Lee Murphy to the stage to join him in performing "Leavin' The Light On," which Rucker penned with Murphy and Phil O'Donnell. "The thing I love about this song is that it's Charleston to me," Rucker said, adding "And my wife loves this song."
Rucker and his band followed with a performance of "Wagon Wheel." The Bob Dylan/Jay Secor penned tune is one of two tracks Rucker didn't co-write. On the album, the track will feature a special appearance by Lady Antebellum. Other special guests on the new project include Sheryl Crow on "Love Without You," written by Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally and Mallary Hope on "I Will Love You Still," which Rucker penned with Josh Kear.
Rucker welcomed Luke Laird and Ashley Gorley to the stage to help him perform the upbeat "Radio." "The whole thing where we sing about the car, that was our car," Rucker said with a laugh. "We had a Cutlass Supreme where the window was stuck and the ceiling was falling. We were writing about my high school years. I didn't get a car till I got famous."
Rucker continued to run through each song on the album, joined on stage by collaborators Bob DiPiero, Mark Nesler, Phillip White, Rodney Clawson, Luke Laird, Ashley Gorley and Frank Rogers. Before they sang "Missing You," Rogers shared the story behind the song, telling the crowd about how a date night with his wife didn't exactly end the way he planned, so when she fell asleep he went in the closet and started a song. "This is what happens when a songwriter doesn't get lucky," he told the crowd.
Kear joined Rucker on stage for "I Will Love You Still," with Hope adding her angelic vocals. Kear and Rucker finished with the lead single/title track "True Believers," inspired by his wife Beth. "Without my wife, I couldn't have made it in country music," Rucker told the crowd before launching into the song. "She really got me to look at life and be serious. I was out there. I didn't stop partying because I wanted to stop partying. I stopped partying because I wanted to be married to Beth Rucker. I don't know what I'd do without her and this song is for her."
The following is a track listing for True Believers.
1) "True Believers" (Darius Rucker, Josh Kear)
2) "Miss You" (Darius Rucker, Frank Rogers)
3) "Wagon Wheel" (Bob Dylan, Jay Secor)
4) "Love Without You" (Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally)
5) "Radio" (Darius Rucker, Luke Laird, Ashley Gorley)
6) "Lost In You" (Darius Rucker, Mark Nesler, Phillip White)
7) "I Will Love You Still" (Darius Rucker, Josh Kear)
8) "Take Me Home" (Darius Rucker, Frank Rogers, Monty Criswell)
9) "Shine" (Darius Rucker, Frank Rogers)
10) "Heartbreak Road" (Darius Rucker, Dallas Davidson, Rhett Akins)
11) "Leavin' The Light On" (Darius Rucker, David Lee Murphy, Phil O'Donnell)
12) "Lie To Me" (Darius Rucker, Rodney Clawson, Bob DiPiero)