Rucker sings of loss and despair as if they've left him shell-shocked. But Hootie -- born at frat parties and still a bar band at heart -- know how to deliver beers-and-tears material, and the occasional anti-racist slam, with a smile. The same sly grin crept into songs of frustration -- country writer Radney Foster's "A Fine Line" and the Who's "I Can't Explain." But Rucker is no more Charley Pride than Bryan is Pete Townshend.
If you think being dysfuncted and damaged, strapped to your baggage, dirty, ruined and hurt like critical, cynical, scathing, if you're lost or have come up missing, scarred and scared (or pretending you aren't), when you think that's all you've got, it's not. The sadness you wear around like a trophy is intriguing at most, but it's miserable, and about as original as a frat boy with a visor cap. So step up.buddy wakefield