When Was the Last Time
“I love it because it’s so country, and it’s so… so… “ The word that Darius Rucker is looking for comes to him. “… so me.”He’s talking specifically about his latest radio hit, “For the First Time,” but Rucker could just as easily be referring to the entire new album that’s following close on the single’s heels, When Was the Last Time.
Fans who’ve driven each one of his four previous Capitol Nashville albums to No. 1 over the last decadecould ask for nogreaterguarantee than that a fifth one will be so very, very Darius Rucker. Inherent in that promise: ballads that alternately evoke old heartbreaks and pledge eternal vows… barroom-ready paeans to both true love and true suds… blissed-out remembrances of an only partly misspent youth… and, most characteristic of all, an overriding warmth that full matches the humidity of the beloved South Carolina he can’t help but constantly invoke. That level of familiarity should not be taken to mean, however, that Rucker did not practice what he preaches when it comes to the lyrics ofsecond single“For the First Time,”a rambunctious stomper that asks the musical question: “When was the last time you did something for the first time? Let yourself go, baby, follow that feeling —maybe something new is what you’re needing.”
Given the career plateau that he’s been enjoying, Rucker could have taken the attitude of: If the wagon wheel ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Instead, he decided to tie that wagon to a fresh producer, Ross Copperman, aiming for “something a little different for me, a little more upbeat,” and far more spontaneously recorded. When it came to allowing himself to have this much fun in the studio, Rucker really was, in effect, a freshman.“I think having a new producer doing things a little differently is really the story of this album,” Rucker says. He’s been a creature of habit: “Even with the Hootie and the Blowfish records, we worked with Don Gehman on almost every record, so I’m used to having that comfort of working with the same producer. And I loved working with Frank Rogers on my previous (solo) records; he’s my brother, and I’m sure we’ll work together again. But we did such a change-up with this. I knew I liked Ross’s sound from the records he’d done with Dierks and some other people” —Copperman is known for his work not just with Bentley but Brett Eldredge, Keith Urban, and Kenny Chesney —“and when I met him, I instantly took to him and thought, ‘I want some of this kid’s energy.’ That kid is never not laughing. He’s also a friggin’ genius with the equipment and coming up with things that really make the record.”