Thursday, June 9, 2011

Darius Rucker, "I Got Nothin'"

Songwriters:  Darius Rucker, Clay Mills

The better part of Darius Rucker's country career has seem a talented voice used on uninteresting material, as demonstrated by recent snoozers such as "Come Back Song" and "This."  So it comes as a pleasant surprise to see that his latest single "I Got Nothin'," is actually a pretty decent song. 

It could use a stronger title hook, but the verses are an overall solid narrative of the dissolution of a relationship, focusing on the desperation of the left-behind partner as he gropes for the right words to keep his woman from leaving him.  The track is backed by a standard contemporary country arrangement with trills of steel guitar.  For the most part, the production stays out of the way, allowing the lyrics and performance to stand front and center.

And yet, for some reason, I'm not feeling it.  Why am I not feeling it?  "I Got Nothin'" seems to have the makings of a strong single, but there's something missing, and that's emotional resonance.  Darius has a great voice, and from a technical perspective, his vocals seem to get the job done.  His vocal delivery is neither weak, nor off-key, but it fails to channel the tortured emotions in the song's lyric.  He sings the words, hits the notes, and calls it a day.  Without that much-needed emotional connection, we are left with what feels like a bland, warmed-over product that leaves little of an impression after its three-and-a-half minutes have expired.

A good song is a good song, but when put on record, the lead vocal is what ultimately binds the whole package together.  Even a great song can fall flat if the vocal doesn't do the job right.  "I Got Nothin'" is a solid composition, but with Darius' disconnected delivery, the overall package misses the mark.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)