Darius Rucker, ‘True Believers’

Give credit to Darius Rucker for jumping from mega-selling rock band Hootie & the Blowfish to take a stab at a country music career. He has been wildly successful, scoring five top 10 country hits from his first two Nashville-nodding albums and becoming the first African-American to have a No. 1 country song since Charlie Pride in 1983. But this new album is a letdown. He strings together broad-brush melodies, country bromides, insistently unctuous choruses, and sugary lyrics that beg for editing. In the cliched “Leavin’ the Light On” he actually sings “Let’s go back to the house, I want to watch you from my pillow.” And in the would-be trucker’s lament “Take Me Home,” he intones, “I wanna hear a Southern drawl and taste every word that lingers.” Say what? He has a strong voice but too many songs are repetitive embarrassments. The only standout is a cover of Bob Dylan’s twangy “Wagon Wheel,” in which he is joined by fellow hitmakers Lady Antebellum. Otherwise, this is hardly going to promote Rucker’s credibility with true country believers. (Out Tuesday) STEVE MORSE

ESSENTIAL “Wagon Wheel”